We said it over and over again during the 2023 South Dakota legislative session: When it comes to gender-affirming care for minors, decisions belong to patients, their parents, and their doctors – not politicians. It is unconstitutional to single out one group of people and categorically ban all care.
Some of our elected officials disagreed. House Bill 1080, legislation that prohibits doctors from providing life-saving gender-affirming health care to trans youth in South Dakota, passed and was signed into law.
But a federal judge in the 8th circuit court – the same jurisdiction South Dakota falls under – permanently blocked an Arkansas law that aimed to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The judge said the law, which is similar to South Dakota's, violates the constitutional rights of transgender youth, their parents, and their medical providers.
Laws like this, when tested by evidence, are indefensible under any standard of constitutional review.
It's not too late, however, for the same legislators who supported House Bill 1080 to change their positions and use their power to undo the harm the new law will inevitably cause for trans South Dakotans (and avoid costly taxpayer-funded litigation, like in Arkansas).
Even when our legislators aren't in Pierre, they need to keep hearing from you, their constituents. Make it clear to our lawmakers that it's time to respect trans kids and their health care needs.