The bill bans doctors from providing best-practice medical care to transgender and nonbinary youth
February 13, 2023 — The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ young people, condemned the signage of HB 1080 into law, a bill banning doctors from providing best-practice medical care to transgender and nonbinary youth. South Dakota is now the fourth state in the U.S., and the second this legislative session, to implement this type of medical care ban.
“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 (she/her pronouns), Director of Law and Policy for The Trevor Project. “We are committed to keep fighting for the rights of young trans South Dakotans to access the best-practice, medically necessary health care they need to survive and thrive. We are here for you and we aren’t going anywhere.”
Last month, The Trevor Project released its first documentary short film, Learn with Love, featuring the stories of three transgender young people, in which an adult in their life previously rejected their identity but ultimately came around to love and accept them. This film’s release signals the beginning of Trevor’s new content strategy that seeks to amplify authentic and educational youth-driven storytelling to counter misinformation, raise public understanding, and spread messages of love and compassion.
The Trevor Project’s 2022 U.S. National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health by State found that 53% of LGBTQ youth in South Dakota seriously considered suicide in the past year, and nearly 1 in 5 (19%) made an attempt. At a national level, The Trevor Project’s data has found that 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported that they have experienced discrimination based on their gender identity, and those who have reported significantly higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who have not.
However, research has also consistently found that transgender medical care, is associated with positive mental health outcomes including showing promise for reducing suicide risk. A 2021 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project, the first large-scale study of more than 9,000 youth who received gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT), found that GAHT was significantly related to lower rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts among transgender and nonbinary youth. Specifically for young people under age 18, receiving GAHT was associated with nearly 40% lower odds of recent depression and of a past-year suicide attempt.
According to The Trevor Project’s new polling, 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. When asked about new policies that will ban doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender and nonbinary youth, 74% of transgender and nonbinary youth said it made them feel angry, 59% felt stressed, 56% felt sad, 48% felt hopeless, 47% felt scared, 46% felt helpless, and 45% felt nervous.
Further, a 2022 poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project found that a majority of adults agree that transgender minors should have access to gender-affirming hormone therapy (55%) and puberty blockers (52%) if it’s recommended by their doctor and supported by their parents. Only 1 in 3 adults polled said lawmakers should have the ability to outlaw gender-affirming medical care for minors even if such a ban is against the recommendation of doctors and major medical associations.