In South Dakota, a bill which will ban doctors from providing puberty blockers and prevent them from performing other treatments related to gender expression in children under the age of 16, has passed in the House State Affairs Committee by an 8-5 vote. Three conservatives broke with their party to vote against this bill, which opposes “experimental procedures,” while stressing encouragement and direction for applicable children.

It makes it a misdemeanor for doctors to perform sex-reassignment surgery or prescribe hormones for transgender youths. This passage will likely pave the way for lawmakers in other states (such as: SC, CO, FL, OK, MO) to pass equally restrictive bills with the end result of punishing medical professionals and parents, who provide any form of treatment for transgender or non-binary youth.

According to Kaiser Health News, this bill and others like it, are reigniting the “polarizing debate” between liberals and conservatives regarding both explicit medical information, as well as the role of parents and doctors in the lives of children and what their respective responsibilities are within this important issue.

While some states are introducing legislation as mentioned above, others are seeing a rapid increase in mobilized activists, civil rights organizations, and suicide prevention groups. While conservatives stress increased guidance for children “struggling with questions about their identity,” liberals have pointed out the positive effects that treatments like puberty blockers can have on the mental health of trans children, and especially teens, citing their ability to decrease risks of suicide in these individuals, as CNN reports.

Sources: Washington Post 01/22/2020; Kaiser Health News 01/23/2020; CNN 01/23/2020

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