South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) on Monday signed into law a bill banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors, including hormonal treatments and some surgeries.
The bill, which will go into effect on July 1, says that any health care provider in the state who violates the ban risks having their medical license revoked and could face civil action.
“South Dakota’s kids are our future. With this legislation, we are protecting kids from harmful, permanent medical procedures,” Noem said in a statement on Monday. “I will always stand up for the next generation of South Dakotans.”
The bill reads, “A healthcare professional may not, for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of, or to validate a minor’s perception of, the minor’s sex, if that appearance or perception is inconsistent with the minor’s sex, knowingly.”
H.B. 1080 bans health care providers from prescribing and administering drugs that can delay puberty and bans them from prescribing sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, to those under 18 years old. The ban also includes the prohibition of gender transition surgeries.
Leading medical organizations and child advocacy groups have denounced such measures, saying what’s healthiest for transgender children is to raise them in accordance with their gender identity. Conservatives, however, have increasingly seized on anti-transgender policies in recent years as a way to motivate their base.
The move by Noem, who is considered a possible 2024 presidential candidate, was swiftly condemned by LGBTQ advocacy groups.
“This ban denies transgender and nonbinary youth crucial support and care. Even in the face of professional guidance from every major medical and mental health association in the country that supports this type of care, politicians are intruding into the private medical decisions best left to transgender young people and their families,” said Casey Pick, director of law and policy for The Trevor Project.
South Dakota is the second state in recent weeks to restrict gender-affirming health care. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed a bill last month banning gender-affirming care for minors in the state and defended his decision on Sunday, saying that the bill is about “whether we might potentially be harming young people.”
Other states have passed similar bills banning gender-affirming care, but some states’ bans, including Alabama and Arkansas, have been blocked by court orders.