A South Dakota bill that would have prohibited doctors, nurses, and medical assistants from providing gender-affirming care to transgender minors has been defeated. In a 5-2 decision, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee deferred action on the bill, effectively killing the radical bill. Now, the decision to use hormone treatments, puberty blockers and the like will remain at the discretion of trans minors and their families, not the state.
The bill, HB 1057, was first introduced by state Republican lawmakers on January 15 and passed the state House later that month in a 46-23 vote, alarmist messaging leading the way. Fred Deutsch, the legislator pushing the bill, compared gender-affirming treatments to Nazi medical experiments, calling them a “crime against humanity.” In an interview with the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, Deutsch said, “You know, I’m the son of a Holocaust survivor. I’ve had family members killed in Auschwitz. And I’ve seen the pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don’t want that to happen to our kids. And that’s what’s going on right now.”
Deutsch later told the Washington Post that he regretted making this particular comparison, but his politics are unchanged and have been wildly anti-trans for years.
But after hearing testimony from both advocates and opponents of the bill, the Senate Committee voted not to move ahead with the bill.
LGBTQ advocates are celebrating, but likely know that their next battle isn’t far off. NBC News reports that in January alone, South Dakota lawmakers introduced two other anti-trans bills: one that would have forced school counselors to out trans children to their parents and another that prevented “the state from intervening if a parent refuses to consent to treatment for their trans kid.” (Both bills have already been rejected.) In 2019, South Dakota’s state House narrowly rejected a bill taking aim at transgender student athletes. In 2016 the state legislature passed a bill that banned transgender students from using bathrooms that corresponded with their gender identity; it was vetoed by the governor.
A woman named Sara Scimone joined the protests outside of the Capitol in Pierre, South Dakota. She told the local Argus Leader that HB 1057 is a distraction from other problems the state should resolve. “Bills like the ones that are up right now are based on misunderstandings and all they do is make kids’ lives and adults’ lives who are part of the LGBTQ community more difficult,” Scimone said.
Given the testimony of Deutsch— who calls 1057 a “bill of compassion”—and his lot, it’s evident that understanding trans kids is the last thing many of these lawmakers want to do.