South Carolina Is Set to Ban Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth

South Carolina’s legislature has passed a sweeping ban on gender-affirming care for minors that will also force youth who are currently transitioning to cease that care or seek it elsewhere, a burdensome requirement for many families. The bill now heads to Governor Henry McMaster’s desk to be signed into law.

On Thursday, the state’s House of Representatives voted 67 to 26 in favor of H4624. The bill bans medical professionals from providing gender-affirming care to those under 18, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgical procedures such as top surgery. Additionally, the bill stipulates that if a minor initiated blockers or hormones prior to August 1, 2024, the minor will be allowed to continue treatment, but only for the purpose of tapering off of it. Minors who will be forced to detransition cannot extend that taper period past January 31, 2025.

The bill also compels school faculty to out students to their parents if they find out that a student identifies as trans. Lastly, the bill doesn’t just affect minors: it would also ban public funds from being used to cover gender-affirming care for people of all ages, including those on Medicaid. If McMaster signs the bill, it will take effect immediately.

Accordingly, the Campaign for Southern Equality has announced that South Carolinians are now eligible for the Southern Trans Youth Emergency Projecta regional rapid response effort providing aid to families directly impacted by anti-trans healthcare bans. In partnership with local organizations such as We Are Family, Uplift Outreach Center, and The Harriet Hancock Center, impacted families can apply for emergency grants of $500 on the Campaign for Southern Equality websiteand the page includes other resources for trans South Carolinians as well.

The bill has been condemned by national advocacy organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign. In a press release, Human Rights Campaign Senior Director of Legal Policy Cathryn Oakley said that the bill meant that lawmakers “abused their power today by substituting their judgment for that of parents, medical professionals, mental health care professionals and other experts.”

“This is a major violation of South Carolinians’ liberty. Every credible medical organization in the nation supports age-appropriate gender affirming care, which can be a life-saving treatment for LGBTQ+ youth,” Oakley said. “These decisions must remain in the hands of medical professionals and parents, not politicians. Governor McMaster should stand on the side of the business community, medical professionals, and the vast majority of his own constituents, reject this extremism, and veto this hateful bill.”

According to the Movement Advancement Projectnearly half of the United States has passed bans on gender-affirming care for minors. Yet 15 states and the District of Columbia have also passed “shield laws” that protect the rights of people who come to those states seeking care. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court allowed Idaho to enforce its own gender-affirming care ban for minors as litigation over the law continues to play out.Get the best of what’s queer. Sign up for Them’s weekly newsletter here.

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