SC House passes bill banning gender-affirming care & requiring schools to out students

A sad teen/kid
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A bill to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors and to apply new restrictions on it for young adults passed the South Carolina House of Representatives today. The bill would also require schools to out students they suspect are trans or nonbinary.

The bill would ban all forms of gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, for transgender youth under the age of 18. Doctors who provide such care, which is supported by major medical associations in the U.S., could risk losing their licenses.

The bill, H.R. 4624, contains an exemption for cisgender minors to receive gender-affirming care and only bans transgender youth from receiving such care. It also contains an exemption for such procedures to be performed on intersex minors, which are often performed on them without their consent.

The state’s Medicaid program will also be banned from covering gender-affirming care for trans people under the age of 26. The state’s Medicaid program already excludes coverage for gender-affirming care for trans people of all ages in the state.

Last, H.R. 4624 would require school nurses, counselors, teachers, and administration to disclose “information related to the minor’s perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex” to their parents. The bill contains no exceptions for suspected trans and nonbinary minors who don’t believe that their parents will support them or who could be kicked out of their homes or abused if they are outed to their parents.

“Today we were disgusted but not surprised to see politicians throw out medical expertise, scientific evidence, and the heartfelt testimony of loving families of trans kids,” said ACLU-South Carolina Executive Director Jace Woodrum, who is a transgender man. “A vote for this bill is to rip away healthcare from vulnerable kids who deserve much better.”

Doctors and parents testified against the bill earlier this month, citing evidence that gender-affirming care saves lives and that it reduces stress, depression, and suicidal behavior.

State Rep. John McCravy (R), one of the co-sponsors of H.R. 4624, said that he has “unpublished evidence” that puberty blockers lead to self-harm despite published research showing the opposite. He called trans kids “mentally disturbed youth” and said gender-affirming care was “mutilation.”

State Rep. RJ May (R), who is the co-chair of the state’s ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, compared Medicaid funding for gender-affirming care to the state paying for “lifestyles” like drug addiction.

Democrats attacked the provision about banning Medicaid from covering gender-affirming care for trans young adults.

“Is it really about protecting minors, or is it about attacking a group of people that you don’t agree with their lifestyle?” said state Rep. Marvin Pendarvis (D).

The bill now goes to the South Carolina Senate, where 30 of the 46 state senators are Republicans. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a ban on transgender students participating in school sports last year. McMaster also said that he opposes same-sex marriage in 2022.

In 2021, McMaster ordered a crackdown on school libraries after he was outraged to learn about nonbinary and asexual author Maia Kobabe’s memoir Gender Queer, which he called “obscene” and “pornographic.” It is not.

In 2019, McMaster asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to allow a federally-funded child welfare agency in the state to refuse to work with non-Christian and LGBTQ+ parents seeking to foster or adopt children, in violation of federal anti-discrimination rules. The Trump administration granted the exemption.

McMaster has not yet issued a statement about whether he would sign H.B. 4624 into law if it passes the state senate.

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