South Dakota’s House of Representatives approved a bill, on February 29th, that would criminalize physicians who treat transgender children with hormones and sex reassignment surgeries. The Vulnerable Child Protection Act will now be sent to the state’s Senate for a committee hearing. Rep. Fred Deutsch, the bill’s primary sponsor, explains the legislation will protect vulnerable children who “are being chemically castrated, sterilized and surgical mutilated.
South Dakota’s House of Representatives is the first state to pass a bill to restrict medical treatment for trangender teens. However, more than half a dozen state houses are considering similar bills.
House Bill 1057
Under the bill, it would be a Class 1 misdemeanor for a physician to prescribe hormone replacement therapy or perform sex reassignment surgery to youth under the age of 16. This includes:
Performing a mastectomy
Gender affirming surgery (vasectomy, penectomy, vaginoplasty and others)
Prescribing, dispensing or administering puberty blocking medication, supraphysiologic doses of testosterone to females and supraphysiologic doses of estrogen to males
Removing any healthy or non-diseased body part or tissue.
The penalty would be a maximum of 1 year in jail and a fine of $2,000. Nurses would be exempt from prosecution.
Republicans and Democrats debate represent a larger culture war with conflicting values, beliefs and practices. The debate is bigger than just the medical issues and extends into parenting and the role of physicians.
Opposition to the Bill
Parents, many members of the medical community and advocates of transgender youths make the following arguments (although there are many more) in opposition to House Bill 1057:
The bill is a form of discrimination that would withhold life saving treatment
The bill is unconstitutional and the decision about gender expression should be between the youth, parent and doctor.
Sex assignment surgeries and are rarely performed on youth
Puberty blockers, requiring parental consent and extensive counseling, are reversible
Libby Skarin, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, issued a statement after the vote, stating “By blocking medical care supported by every major medical association, the legislature is compromising the health of trans youth in dangerous and potentially life-threatening ways.”
A conservative Christian organization, Liberty Counsel, has offered legal counsel to defend bill, at no cost to state taxpayers.
Proponents of the Bill
Lawmakers supporting the bill make debate these points (among others):
Need to protect youth from making life altering changes until they are old enough to consider all available options
Too young to understand the potential consequences
Sex-reassigment surgery and administration in youth are harmful, abusive and criminal acts
The website https://hb1057.com/, promotes Deutsch’s bill and features resources and videos from the Heritage Foundation, the Minnesota Family Council, a Christian organization.
In 2018, the American Nurses Association released a position statement, Nursing Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Populations and applied the nursing code of ethics to this population.
ANA Position Statement: Nursing Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Populations
How do you think this ethical duty of nursing fits into the debate around limiting transgender healthcare for youth?
Let us hear from you!