According to a new bill introduced by the South Dakota Republicans, medical professionals who offer health care services, including the prescription of puberty blockers, to transgender people under 18 could face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
A Republican member of the South Dakota House of Representatives, Fred Deutsch, introduced the bill on Tuesday and said, “It [House Bill 1057] is a way to hit the ‘pause button’ on an ‘overwhelming and life-changing’ decision.
He said, “Children need to wait until they’re mature to do it (gender-related surgeries, such as a vasectomy or vaginoplasty, as well as nonsurgical practices, like the prescription of puberty blockers or hormones).”
Deutsch, who is a chiropractor, considers these practices dangerous because of the physical and psychological toll they take on minors.
Doctors, nurses and medical assistants could face a Class 4 felony (a penalty of up to 10 years in prison) if they are found providing gender-transition treatment to minors.
However, Democratic leaders said they would oppose the bill.
Rep. Kelly Sullivan said that the measure would interfere in the doctor-patient relationship. She said doctors, patients and families should make the decisions for treatment.
Sullivan called the bill a “waste of time” and said she is not aware of any medical centers in South Dakota that provide gender-transition treatments for minors. However, Deutsch said he has found some doctors administering gender-transition treatment in Sioux Falls.
Psychiatrist Dr. Jack Turban from Harvard Medical School, who researches the mental health of trans youth, said. “[It is] unsettling to see state legislators proposing that standard medical care, as outlined by The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and The Endocrine Society, should be a felony.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota told Dakota News Now that the bill is “continuing a streak of discrimination of transgender youth in the state.”
Policy Director of ACLU South Dakota Libby Skarin said, “Transgender kids, like all kids, deserve a chance to experience joy, to learn in a safe environment, to get the health care that they need, and to survive into adulthood. When the government proposes laws that would stigmatize them and undermine their care, they lose those opportunities.”