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South Dakota Lawmakers Propose Medical Care Ban Harmful to Transgender Youth

BY: Josh Weaver

South Dakota legislators recently proposed HB 1057, a bill that would criminalize medical care for any transgender patient under the age of 18, even when such care is deemed medically necessary and has the consent of the patient’s parents. The proposed legislation goes against medical care best practices for transgender youth, which are backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading medical authorities.

The Trevor Project recognizes these legislative attacks on transgender youth as harmful, and encourages lawmakers to instead work towards creating safe, affirming environments for all young people to thrive.

“Transgender youth deserve to be loved and affirmed, not demonized by the very people elected to represent them,” said Sam Brinton (they/them pronouns), Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “We know based on the work we do every day at The Trevor Project that respecting and affirming a young person’s identity is critical to their health and wellbeing. Blanket bans on medically necessary care for transgender youth contradict the resounding conclusion of nearly every major medical association in the United States and would put young lives at risk in South Dakota.”

In The Trevor Project’s 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 76% of LGBTQ youth felt that the recent political climate impacted their mental health or sense of self. In addition, 78% of transgender and non-binary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity.

Over the last year, The Trevor Project has supported over 150 crisis contacts in South Dakota. As troubling as that is, that’s less than 5% of the number of South Dakota’s LGBTQ youth who we estimate to be in crisis and could benefit from our services. The Trevor Project’s experience also shows that anti-transgender rhetoric and legislation cause real harm. In 2017, The Trevor Project reported that crisis contacts from transgender youth more than doubled following the president’s tweet regarding transgender military service members and the announcement of a “bathroom bill” in the Texas legislature.

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