Media Contact

Janna Farley,

February 9, 2023

Ignoring strong opposition from South Dakota medical experts, parents, transgender youth and advocates, senators today voted to pass House Bill 1080, legislation that will allow the government to intervene in private medical decisions, prohibiting doctors from providing life-saving gender-affirming health care to transgender South Dakotans. The bill now moves to Gov. Kristi Noem’s desk for her signature. 

The ACLU of South Dakota opposes House Bill 1080. The bill represents vast government overreach that undermines the fundamental rights of parents. Singling out gender-affirming care for categorical prohibition violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

“House Bill 1080 is a devastating and dangerous violation of the rights and privacy of transgender South Dakotans, their families and their medical providers,” said Samantha Chapman, ACLU of South Dakota advocacy manager. “Medical decisions belong to patients (and their parents) and their doctors – not the government. The only controversy in providing life-saving gender-affirming care for transgender youth in South Dakota is the one fabricated by legislators who want to see this harmful bill become law.”

Doctors and medical organizations have been providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth for decades, and it is supported by every major medical association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

“Committee members heard proponent testimony from out-of-state care providers speaking on medical treatments outside their scope of practice. Proponents flew in individuals who are on a nationwide speaking tour in state legislatures introducing similar legislation,” Chapman said. “Meanwhile, opponents who live in South Dakota – whether doctors, parents or youth themselves – made a compelling case that this is the wrong path for our state. Despite the clear transphobic agenda of the sponsors and flimsy justification for adding another discriminatory law in our state, our elected officials voted to interject the government into complex and private dynamics and decisions of South Dakota families.”

The risks of denying this health care to the young people who need it are grave and well founded, while passing this legislation has made South Dakota less safe and less welcoming for transgender youth, their families and all who love them.

“Discrimination against a marginalized group is a distraction from the state’s real needs and hurts us all,” Chapman said.

Laws similar to House Bill 1080 that passed in Arkansas and Alabama are currently enjoined by federal courts.

About the ACLU of South Dakota

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+ and Two Spirit 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.