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South Dakota Legislature Passes First Anti-Trans Bill of 2022

BY: Josh Weaver
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85% of transgender and nonbinary youth say that recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health.

February 01, 2022 — The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people, condemned the South Dakota House of Representatives for passing two anti-transgender bills today: HB 1005, which would restrict transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity, and SB 46, which would restrict transgender women and girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity. HB 1005 is now headed to the South Dakota Senate and SB 46 is headed to the governor’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law and become the first anti-trans bill enacted in 2022.

“This early on in 2022, a year when we as a nation are facing unprecedented obstacles, it’s as heartbreaking as it is infuriating to see South Dakota lawmakers put such effort into attacking transgender youth. Bills like these are unnecessary and cruel, and we know the ugly rhetoric surrounding them is having a real impact on the mental health and wellbeing of one of our most marginalized groups of young people,” said Sam Ames (they/them pronouns), Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “The Trevor Project’s research has found that transgender and nonbinary youth who reported experiencing discrimination based on their gender identity over something as basic as using the bathroom had nearly double the odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not. Lawmakers should be focusing on the real issues facing these young people and fostering spaces where everyone can be safe, not making life harder than it already is for the transgender and nonbinary youth of South Dakota.”

“Every year, South Dakota’s state lawmakers spend more and more time on bills that do nothing to help our communities,” said Adam Dale Jorgensen (he/him pronouns), Board Chair of Equality South Dakota. “These types of bills are driven by myths and misunderstandings. If lawmakers spent time having meaningful conversations with their constituents, they’d see this. But until lawmakers make an honest attempt to better connect with and understand the needs of their constituents, we will continue to see bills like SB 46 and HB 1005 that address nonexistent issues.” 

According to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66%) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. When asked about new policies that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams and transgender boys from playing on boys’ sports teams, 74% of transgender and nonbinary youth said it made them feel angry, 57% felt sad, 43% felt stressed, and nearly 1 in 3 felt scared.

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than half (52%) of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 1 in 5 attempted suicide. However, research also shows that transgender and nonbinary youth who have access to gender-affirming spaces report lower rates of attempting suicide. A 2021 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project’s researchers, published in Transgender Health, found that transgender and nonbinary youth who reported gender identity acceptance from adults and peers had significantly lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

About The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide.

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