South Dakota Republican state representative Fred Deutsch has made it his life’s mission to make the lives of trans kids as miserable as possible, his latest effort being a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to prescribe hormone blockers and hormone therapy to kids under the age of 16. And in an interview with Tony Perkins, the president of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, Deutsch shared why he’s so passionate about denying life-saving care to trans kids—in his mind, giving puberty blockers to kids and other forms of gender-affirming care are just like Nazi medical experiments.
“To me, that’s a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by these so-called doctors,” Deutsch told Perkins, describing trans-affirming care as “mutilation.” “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, as you may recall, was one of the sponsors of South Dakota’s 2016 bill that banned trans students from using the bathroom that corresponded to their gender identity, which passed the legislature but was vetoed by the governor. “I developed the bill because I don’t want my four daughters to shower with people with male anatomy,” Deutsch said at the time.
As for his recent comments, Deutsch told the Washington Post that he “regrets” comparing doctors who provide gender-affirming care to Nazis. “I regret making the comparison,” Deutsch said to the Post. “I regret saying anything at all. It was pretty stupid.” To the Argus Leader, which first reported on his interview with Perkins, he had something quite different to say. “I’ve been to a whole bunch of Holocaust museums all over the world. It’s very personal to me. It’s just a simple reflection that the pictures seem similar to me,” he told the Leader. And as the Argus Leader noted, Deutsch isn’t the only transphobe who compared trans-affirming care to Nazi doctors.
Here’s what Michael Laidlaw, an endocrinologist who consults with anti-trans groups and is regularly cited by rightwing media outlets, had to say during a recent hearing on Deutsch’s bill, per the Leader:
Michael Laidlaw, a endocrinologist in California, also made the connection between eugenics and transgender medical treatment today when he testified in the HB1057 hearing on Wednesday, cautioning South Dakota legislators that major medical systems are capable of causing harm to people.
“Examples in the United States, the despicable Tuskegee syphilis experiment on African-Americans. The entire German medical establishment was behind atrocious human eugenics experiments in Nazi Germany, including untold numbers of children,” he told the House committee.
In a press release issued by WoLF, the so-called radical feminist group that has aligned itself with rightwing politicians and organizations in order to push anti-trans legislation and whose board member Kara Dansky testified at the same hearing, the organization similarly likened gender-affirming care to eugenics. “Sterilizing children, or trying to cure psychiatric and social problems with the removal of sex organs, is a social trend that should have been left in the eugenics era,” wrote board member Natasha Chart.
In interviews, Deutsch has repeatedly peddled rightwing talking points and outright lies in order to justify his push to criminalize medical care for trans kids, describing hormone therapy and puberty blockers as “dangerous drugs” that “poison their bodies” with the “wrong hormones.” It’s an argument that conveniently neglects to mention the large body of research that has found that not only are hormone therapy and puberty blockers safe, providing such care to trans kids dramatically reduces their risk of dying by suicide.
The South Dakota House will vote on HB1057 on Wednesday. If the bill becomes law, the ACLU has already vowed to challenge it in court.