South Dakota legislature passes bill banning chemical castration, sex-change surgeries for kids

State Capitol in Pierre, South Dakota.
State Capitol in Pierre, South Dakota. | Getty Images

South Dakota lawmakers have passed a bill banning sex change surgeries and experimental puberty blockers for children and teens and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Kristi Noem for it to become state law.

House Bill 1080 received overwhelming support, passing the state House last week by a vote of 60-10 and then passing the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 30-4.

The bill states that “a healthcare professional may not, for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of, or to validate a minor's perception of, the minor’s sex, if that appearance or perception is inconsistent with the minor's sex.”

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The legislation goes on to prohibit giving minors “any drug to delay or stop normal puberty,” or to perform “any sterilizing surgery, including castration, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, orchiectomy, penectomy, and vasectomy.”

HB 1080 includes exemptions for, among other things, when a child is “born with a medically verifiable disorder of sex development, including external biological sex characteristics that are irresolvably ambiguous” or when a child needs “treatment for an infection, injury, disease, or disorder that has been caused or exacerbated by” earlier attempts to change their sex.

The legislation also allows for minors who are presently taking a regimen of opposite-sex hormones or puberty blockers to have the dosage gradually reduced for safety reasons.

Last month, Noem's Communications Director Ian Fury told The Daily Signal that the governor “supports this legislation and will be watching as the legislature works through the process.”

Samantha Chapman of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota has expressed opposition to HB 1080, calling it “a devastating and dangerous violation of the rights and privacy of transgender South Dakotans, their families and their medical providers.”

“Medical decisions belong to patients (and their parents) and their doctors — not the government,” said Chapman. “The only controversy in providing life-saving gender-affirming care for transgender youth in South Dakota is the one fabricated by legislators who want to see this harmful bill become law.”

In February 2022, Noem signed a bill into law that, among other things, prohibited men who identify as women from competing in women-only athletic competitions.

Noem said in a statement at the time that the legislation would provide women and girls in South Dakota “a level playing field” in athletic competitions, adding that the law “gives them the chance to experience success, go on to potentially play at a higher level, earn scholarships, perhaps play professionally, and have a career.”

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