Panel passes cross-sex hormone ban for minors to House floor

Lawmakers on the House Health and Human Services committee voted along party lines to send HB 1080 to the full House for further consideration
Rep. Bethany Soye (R-Sioux Falls) testifies before the South Dakota House Health and Human...
Rep. Bethany Soye (R-Sioux Falls) testifies before the South Dakota House Health and Human Services committee in favor of HB 1080. If passed, HB 1080 would ban cross sex hormone therapy for minors in the state.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 12:13 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - House lawmakers voted before a packed committee room Tuesday to advance a bill that would ban cross-sex hormone therapy for minors.

The bill, HB 1080, would “prohibit certain medical and surgical interventions on minor patients.” It’s being carried by Rep. Bethany Soye (R-Sioux Falls).

“We care deeply about our children who are struggling with their identities, and want to provide them with true meaningful help, not permanent physical damage,” Soye said in her opening remarks to the committee.

The committee saw testimony on both sides from a number of medical professionals, legal experts, religious figures, and current and former transgender people.

“The overwhelming majority of gender dysphoric children resolve their dysphoria when they have undergone normal puberty and they have reached their late teens,” said Dr. Don Oliver, a Rapid City medical professional who testified in favor of the bill.

Others argued that the care provided to transgender youth in the state was essential to their mental health, and that those carrying the legislation were exaggerating the type of healthcare that happens in South Dakota.

Specifically, a number of healthcare professionals in the state said that they are currently unable to perform genital surgery on minors.

“The South Dakota State Medical Association (SDSMA) has long opposed bureaucratic and legislative interference in medicine in government,” said SDSMA lobbyist Justin Bell. “This causes a physician to compromise their medical judgement, regarding what information and treatment is in the best interest of patients.”

Elliott Morehead, a 16-year-old transgender student from Sioux Falls, skipped school to testify against the bill.

“I am in a body that is a couple more steps from being 100% me,” Morehead said. “HB 1080 will deny that opportunity that I have worked hard to achieve.”

Ultimately, lawmakers voted 11 to 2, along party lines, to advance the bill to the floor.

Soye pointed to research from Sweden, which has banned gender transitioning care and puberty blockers for minors, as a reason to advance the legislation.

“These procedures clearly do not solve the suicide problem, and it is still an epidemic,” Soye said. “Do we need to take decades here, or can we learn from their mistakes?”

While similar legislation has failed in years past, HB 1080 appears to have more momentum than others before it. As of Tuesday, the legislation has 36 sponsors and co-sponsors on it, across both legislative chambers. It has also garnered the support of Gov. Kristi Noem.

HB 1080 will likely be heard on the House floor sometime later this week.