South Dakota passes law that would send doctors who help trans children transition to jail

Ted Eytan via Flickr

Doctors will face a $2,000 fine or a jail sentence.

Lawmakers in the South Dakota House of Representatives have passed a law that means doctors will no longer be able to help trans children to medically transition. The law had nearly 50 sponsors, and means that doctors who give children under the age of 16 hormone treatment or gender confirmation surgery face a $2,000 fine or a one year jail sentence.

The bill now heads to the state’s Senate, where it is heavily expected to pass.

The bill will be opposed by Democrats in the Senate, with the Minority Leader, Troy Heinert telling ABC News: “I’m ashamed.

“This is not who we are. This is not who a majority of Dakotans are. We try to be respectful of people’s rights, and we often pride ourselves that we are about small government. This is completely the opposite.”

One of the main sponsors of the bill, Fred Deustch, compared the doctors doing the treatments to Nazi doctors. “To me, that’s a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by these so-called doctors,” he told the Family Research Council, which has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

“You know, I’m the son of a Holocaust survivor. I’ve had family members killed in Auschwitz. And I’ve seen the pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don’t want that to happen to our kids. And that’s what’s going on right now.”

Deustch later told the Washington Post he regretted his comparison, calling it “pretty stupid.”

Ted Eytan via Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that this bill is just the first of many being debated in conservative states. Other states like Florida, Oklahoma and South Carolina are also considering passing similar bans.

Speaking to Mother Jones, Chase Strangio, the deputy director of the LGBT and HIV Project at the ACLU, said: “Overall, this is one of the most hostile starts to a legislative session that we’ve seen, certainly in the last five years, with respect to anti-LGBTQ bills.”

Responding to the bill, Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said: “A group of extreme lawmakers, led by Rep. Fred Deutsch, are targeting transgender youth, spreading misinformation and using vicious, harmful rhetoric while doing so.

“Deustch and these anti-trans elected officials want to discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming South Dakotans, full stop.”

He added: “If HB 1057 were to become law, it would send a strong message to trans youth that they are less than their peers and that lawmakers in the Capitol know better than doctors, parents and trans youth.”

A study last week showed that puberty blockers could be “life-saving” for trans teenagers. The study published in the medical journal Pediatrics was the first to examine the link between access to puberty blockers as an adolescent and future suicidal ideation among trans adults.

Researchers on the study analysed a survey of 20,619 trans adults aged 18 to 36 and found that 16.9% said they’d wanted blockers during adolescence, but only 2.5% actually got them.

Those who received puberty-blocking treatment had lower odds of lifetime suicidal ideation, compared to those who wanted the treatment but were unable to receive it.

Related: Republicans trying to ban Trans Pride flags flying at public buildings

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