South Dakota House advances bill banning treatments for transgender teens

The South Dakota House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prohibit physicians from providing hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery to transgender teens, The Hill reports.

Under the measure, if physicians are caught providing these treatments to children younger than 16 years, they could face misdemeanor charges. The bill also bans physicians from performing vasectomies on children 16 years and younger.

GOP Rep. Fred Deutsch, the primary sponsor of the bill, tweeted after its House passage that it will "protect gender-confused children."

He previously made comments comparing medical treatment for transgender children to experiments performed on children in concentration camps during the Holocaust, but walked back the comments Jan. 28, saying "I wish I wouldn't have opened my mouth because it takes the focus off the purpose of the bill, which is to try to help children."

Human and civil rights groups have decried the passage of the bill.

"By blocking medical care supported by every major medical association, the legislature is compromising the health of trans youth in dangerous and potentially life-threatening ways," said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called South Dakota lawmakers who voted for the bill "a group of extreme lawmakers…[who] are targeting transgender youth, spreading misinformation and using vicious, harmful rhetoric while doing so."

The bill is now headed to the state senate, which is controlled by Republicans. According to a CNN report, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem told reporters last week that she had "a few concerns" about the bill, adding that when filling parenting gaps with government control "you have to be very careful about the precedent you're setting."

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