South Dakota Senate Passes Ban on Transgender Surgeries and Hormone Treatments for Minors

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February 10, 2023

The South Dakota Senate on Thursday sent a bill that protects minors from gender transition surgeries and treatments to Gov. Kristi Noem's (R.) desk for her signature, passing the legislation in a 30-4 party-line vote.

The bill, which Noem is expected to sign as soon as next week, prohibits health care providers from administering puberty blockers, cross-gender hormones, and gender transition surgeries on children under 18. The bill passed the same day a whistleblower report prompted Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) and the Missouri attorney general to launch an investigation into St. Louis Children's Hospital's Transgender Center for its "egregious abuses and potential malpractice" regarding gender treatment on minors. Twenty-one other states are considering similar legislation to block gender reassignment procedures for youth.

"We care deeply about children who are struggling with their identity and want to provide them with true, meaningful help, not permanent physical damage," state senator Al Novstrup (R.), the bill's sponsor, said Thursday.

In its final hearing on Thursday, the state senate voted down an amendment proposed by Sen. Tim Reed (R.) to allow puberty blockers under the law. Reed argued the drugs calm a child's anxiety while they undergo counseling. Novstrup urged legislatures to block the amendment, rattling off from a 12- page Swedish medical study 22 serious side effects common to the prescribed drug.

"Puberty's a scary time. ... There's a lot of questions, lot of doubts, lot of confusion ... but it's no reason to stop it, it's a reason to work your way through it," Sen. John Wiik (R.) said.

"I think what we're doing here is a real injustice to the work that we should be doing," Sen. Shawn Bordeaux (D.) said. "It feels like from the comments I hear from young people like we're picking on them and we have other things up here that should be more important."

Noem’s chief of communications, Ian Fury, told the Daily Signal in January that the governor supports the legislation.