South Carolina bans gender transition care for minors

South Carolina's Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill into law on Tuesday which prohibits medical professionals from performing sex reassignment surgery, prescribing puberty-blocking drugs, and supervising hormone treatments in patients under 18. The state joins about two dozen other states that have passed laws restricting or banning what doctors call gender reassignment treatment for minors.

The law, which takes effect immediately, also requires principals, teachers and other school staff to inform parents if their children wish to use a name other than their legal name or pronouns that do not match the gender assigned at birth.

Lawmakers in South Carolina tried to pass similar legislation in 2021 and 2022, but failed to get it through the state House of Representatives. In 2022, the deadline for a broader bill banning transitional care for minors passed, but lawmakers included a provision in the state budget prohibiting a pediatric clinic at a public hospital from using state funds to provide transitional care for people under 16. The clinic soon went a step further and ended hormone treatment for anyone under 18.

This year, House Republicans have made addressing gender transition a priority. “When God created us, he created us male and female, that's all,” House Majority Leader David Hiott, the bill's co-sponsor, said at the start of the legislative session in January. “All these other people who want to change that from birth change that over the course of their lives, we have to fight back.”

The measure, known as House Bill 4624, was passed by the Legislature earlier this month. The new legislation not only expands the ban on providing care to minors to all providers statewide, but also prohibits adults under the age of 26 from using Medicaid to cover the cost of that care.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Mr. McMaster said the bill “protects our state's children from irreversible gender reassignment procedures,” adding that he would meet with his supporters at a signing ceremony next week.

At a House committee hearing in January, Dr. Elizabeth Mack, president of the South Carolina chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, supported the measure, saying there is “no mainstream organization that does not support gender-affirming care.”

“Gender-affirming care is evidence-based suicide prevention care,” she said at the time. She added that gender reassignment surgery is not currently being performed in South Carolina and that transitional care is only undertaken after much consideration between doctors, parents and children.

Anna Harden

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