The ACLU of South Dakota opposes House Bill 1057, a bill that would criminalize doctors for providing medically necessary care for transgender youth.
The bill, which was introduced Tuesday, would make it a felony for medical providers to treat youth consistent with evidence-based treatment protocols. HB 1057 continues the streak of bills that would codify discrimination against transgender youth that the South Dakota Legislature has attempted to pass over the last five years.
Like all health care, health care for transgender youth is individualized and based on the needs of each particular person. This bill would take away private health care choices around the provision of medical care consistent with prevailing medical and scientific standards. Such choices should be made between a doctor and a patient, not politicians.
“Transgender kids, like all kids, deserve a chance to experience joy, to learn in a safe environment, to get the health care that they need, and to survive into adulthood,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “When the government proposes laws that would stigmatize them and undermine their care, they lose those opportunities.”
By blocking medical care supported by every major medical association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, the legislature is compromising the health of trans youth in dangerous and potentially life-threatening ways. Research shows that transgender youth whose families affirm their gender identity have a 52 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts, a 48 percent decrease in suicide attempts and significant increases in self-esteem and general health.
No other state has passed a law like HB 1057. It is unconstitutional to single out one group of people and categorically ban all care, no matter how medically necessary.
“Every year, South Dakota lawmakers zero in on transgender youth and every year the transgender community is hurt while meaningful problems go unaddressed,” Skarin says. “The more we legislate solutions in search of problems, the more our communities suffer. It’s time we stop these attacks and focus on issues that matter to the people of South Dakota. Discrimination against a marginalized group is a distraction from the state’s real needs and hurts us all.”
About the ACLU of South Dakota
Decisions made during the annual sessions of the South Dakota Legislature have a deep and lasting impact on our state’s people and communities. As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights.
Based in Sioux Falls, the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.
The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.