South Carolina lawmakers bring bill banning surgeries, medications for trans minors to House floor

Republican lawmakers in South Carolina are bringing a bill banning hormone therapy, the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs and gender transition surgery for anyone under 18 years old to the House floor.

During the first two days of the 2024 legislative session, the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee voted to advance the bill, which is similar to restrictions on health care for transgender minors already in effect in at least 22 other states, according to the Associated Press.

House bill 4624 focuses on preventing health professionals from providing the aforementioned therapy, medication and procedure to minors, and also prevents Medicaid from covering such services for anyone under 26 years old.

It specifies that transgender youth would still be able to seek and utilize mental health services.

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HB 4624 also states that school employees cannot withhold information related to a student’s gender identity from their parents or legal guardians nor can they “encourage or coerce” a minor to withhold that information from their parents or legal guardians.

It also requires school employees who think a student may be struggling with “gender dysphoria, gender identity disorder, or other psychological conditions that can result in a person identifying with a gender different than that of their sex” to notify the child’s parents or legal guardians.

Rep. Thomas Beach, who is on the committee that advanced the bill, told the AP that “parents need to know what’s going on in their child’s life.”

Rep. Jordan Pace, who is also on the committee, echoed those sentiments and, as a former educator, said he would have been neglecting his duty if he had ever concealed such information from a student’s parents.

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The piece of legislation comes with criticism from parents of transgender children and some health professionals in the state.

Eric Childs, the father of a 15-year-old transgender son, told the AP choosing to undergo hormone replacement therapy should be up to his child, not lawmakers. Childs also said that his family wants the child to have every medically recommended option available and that none of their health care decisions have been made “on a whim.”

South Carolina pediatrician Dr. Deborah Greenhouse, who said she has taken care of some transgender children during her three decades in the field, told the AP that minors in the state do not receive gender-transition surgeries and that the treatments they do receive are given with the consent of “fully-involved” parents.¬†

She also said minors do not begin taking medication until puberty begins.

Major medical groups, like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, deem such treatments for trans youth as safe when administered properly.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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