A GOP state lawmaker likened gender confirmation surgery to Nazi medical experiments conducted during the Holocaust during an interview with the president of a fundamentalist Christian group.
Rep. Fred Deutsch, a Republican in the South Dakota House of Representatives, made the remarks while trying to introduce the nation’s first law that could send doctors to jail for treating transgender youths younger than 16 with hormone therapy or surgery.
Speaking to Tony Perkins, the president of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council (FRC), Deutsch described feeling driven to introduce HB1057 after seeing pictures on the internet of children with scars from undergoing gender confirmation surgery.
“And it’s terrible, that should not ever be allowed,” he said. “To me, that’s a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by the so-called doctors that dance on the edge of medicine. I just don’t think it should be done.”
“I’m the son of a Holocaust survivor. I’ve had family members killed in Auschwitz and I’ve seen the pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don’t want that to happen to our kids and that’s what’s going on right now.”
Deutsch told Perkins during the radio interview that he has been getting a lot of hate mail while trying to pass HB1057, adding that “some people just cannot communicate opposition without going overboard.”
Deutsch later defended his controversial remarks, telling the Argus Leader he noticed similarities between Nazi eugenic experiments and gender confirmation surgeries having visited a “whole bunch of Holocaust museums all over the world.”
“It’s very personal to me. It’s just a simple reflection that the pictures seem similar to me,” he added.
Deutsch made the remarks on January 22, five days before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, reports Newsweek.
“All I meant is the pictures of mutilated post-surgical bodies that some transgender people have shared online remind me of pictures of other people I have seen from the Holocaust,” Deutsch told Newsweek in a statement. “It was not meant to be a comparison, just a personal reflection. In reflection, it was an inappropriate comment I should not have said.”
Opponents of the restrictions point to medical best practices that suggest limiting treatment options for transgender youth can lead to mental health issues like depression and suicide.
“The decision of whether and when to initiate gender-affirmative treatment is personal and involves careful consideration of risks, benefits, and other factors unique to each patient and family,” the American Academy of Pediatrics noted in a 2018 guide on providing medical care to transgender children.
The ACLU of South Dakota said it will fight any attempt to pass the bill into law.
“By blocking medical care supported by every major medical association, this legislation represents a callous disregard for the health and wellness of South Dakota’s transgender youth, some of the most vulnerable people in our state,” said Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, in a statement.
“We want South Dakotans to know that we are investigating all of our legal options. If this bill becomes law, it will be challenged. We will see you in court.”