S.C. lawmakers push ban on transgender healthcare options for minors

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A new bill would ban minors in South Carolina from receiving gender-affirming care.

It’s a push happening in other states across the country right now, including Georgia, where a similar ban just became law Thursday.

A majority of the state Senate — 25 of the chamber’s 46 members, all of them Republican — has signed on as sponsors of this bill.

Senators on a Medical Affairs subcommittee heard two hours of testimony from invited speakers this week on the legislation, S.627, with more public comment scheduled for next week.

This bill would ban anyone under 18 from undergoing gender transition procedures, which are defined as medical or surgical services performed with the purpose of assisting with a physical gender transition.

That includes gender-affirming surgeries, which doctors have testified are not performed on minors in South Carolina, as well as puberty-blocking drugs and hormone therapy.

“Puberty blockers essentially buy the adolescent time, protecting their mental health while they have a chance to grow, develop, and make more adult decisions about their future,” Dr. Deborah Greenhouse, a Columbia pediatrician, said.

In addition to banning these procedures for minors, this bill would also prohibit state dollars be used directly or indirectly on these procedures for anyone, including adults.

South Carolina pediatricians told senators this care is what national medical associations recommend for kids and teens with gender dysphoria, the distress or discomfort some transgender people may feel when their bodies don’t match their gender identity.

“The truth is that this is the safe way to care for children, and so if we’re protecting children, gender-affirming care is the way to go,” Dr. Elizabeth Mack, a pediatric ICU physician in Charleston, said.

But supporters contend this bill would protect some minors from medical procedures they might later regret.

“This is not a bill about hating anybody. This is not a bill that restricts the right of any adult to do what he or she so desires or chooses with their lives,” Sen. Josh Kimbrell, R – Spartanburg and one of the bill’s sponsors said.

Another section of that bill would require schools to notify parents if they believe their child suffers from gender dysphoria or identifies with a gender different from their sex.

Senators are also considering a second bill, S.623, that would only allow male and female genders on birth certificates, and it would only let gender be changed on this document if it is because of a clerical error or within 12 months of birth.

The subcommittee did not vote on whether to advance these bills during their meeting this week. They plan to hear more testimony from the public at another meeting next Wednesday at 9 a.m.

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