Republican State Representative Stewart Jones (S.C.) filed a bill on Wednesday that would ban a variety of medical treatments for transgender children, potentially even antidepressants for gender dysphoria.
House bill 4716, known as the “Youth Gender Reassignment Prevention Act,” prohibits doctors from performing any “gender reassignment medical treatment” on a person under 18. The bill would also ban hormones and puberty blockers, a reversible treatment that stops the physical changes associated with puberty.
It also prohibits any treatment “to align the patient’s appearance or physical body with the patient’s gender identity,” as well as “interventions to alleviate symptoms of clinically significant distress.”
The proposed legislation has an exception allowing mental health counseling. Still, it is so broad that it could ban medication for depression associated with gender dysphoria, Colleen Condon, board president of the South Carolina LGBTQ rights group Alliance for Full Acceptance, told Vox. Because “interventions” covered by the bill could include allowing a child to dress in accordance with their gender identity, she added, “It does seem to basically say you can’t be you.”
Jones has frequently demonstrated his lack of accurate knowledge on the topic in multiple interviews. “Somebody under 18, they can’t buy cigarettes and alcohol, and so they shouldn’t be able to have a sex change,” he told the Post and Courier. The term “sex change” has no clinical meaning.
“This is essentially state sponsored deadly violence against trans kids,” wrote ACLU attorney Chase Strangio on Twitter of the announcement “This bill deliberately disregards clear science & medicine confirming that treating youth w/ gender dysphoria consistent with their affirmed gender saves their life. It tells providers to violate their oath. It tells trans kids they don’t matter. And it tells me: see you in court.”
The bill, which is unlikely to get a hearing until January at the earliest, is part of a larger trend around the country, with lawmakers in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky floating bans on medical care for trans youth, as Katelyn Burns reports at Vox.
If passed, trans rights advocates warn that such laws are likely to harm trans youth, who are already at high risk of suicide and depression, by cutting off their access to the lifesaving care they need.
Citing the high suicide rates that already exist for trans youth, Gillian Branstetter, former spokesperson of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said these bills “would create an environment where trans-supportive parents and health providers risk legal, social, and political persecution for trying to care for trans-identified children.”
“Any such legislation would carry a body count [and…] empower parents to reject what they are being told by doctors,” Branstetter said.
Speaking of Rep. Jones, Condon said, “It feels like he’s trying to drive our trans teens to the grave.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents 67,000 doctors, issued a statement last year to recommend “providing youth with access to comprehensive gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care.”