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PIERRE, SD – On Monday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a bill into law that bans gender-affirming care for transgender children under the age of 18. The “Help Not Harm” bill, passed in the state Senate last Thursday on a vote of 30-4, outlaws specific medical and surgical procedures for minors, as per a statement released by Noem on the Governor’s website.
“South Dakota’s kids are our future,” Noem said. “With this legislation, we are protecting kids from harmful, permanent medical procedures. I will always stand up for the next generation of South Dakotans.”
The bill, originally introduced by state Republicans in January, prohibits minors from being prescribed puberty-blocking drugs or hormone therapy and surgeries that would allow them to transition into a different gender presentation from the biological sex that is listed on their birth certificate.
Doctors who violate the new law by providing the aforementioned gender-affirming care to kids under the age of 18 could face civil lawsuits and even have their medical license revoked.
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GOP state Senator Al Novstrup, the bill’s sponsor, said that the law provides “meaningful help” to for troubled transgendered youth.
“We care deeply about children who are struggling with their identities and want to provide them with true meaningful help, not permanent physical damage,” he said.
Those supporting the “Help Not Harm” law say that it addresses mental health issues and that often feelings of gender dysphoria abate once a child enters puberty, making permanent physical changes unnecessary. However, opponents of the law are claiming that it represents government overreach and that gender-affirming can reduce suicide risk and improve psychological well-being for trans kids.
With the passing of the “Help Not Harm” law, South Dakota now joins Alabama, Arkansas and Utah as states that have passed legislative bans on gender-affirming care for minors.