***The Iowa Standard is an independent media voice. We rely on the financial support of our readers to exist. Please consider a one-time sign of support or becoming a monthly supporter at $5, $10/month - whatever you think we're worth! If you’ve ever used the phrase “Fake News” — now YOU can actually DO something about it! You can also support us on PayPal at [email protected] or Venmo at Iowa-Standard-2018 or through the mail at: PO Box 112 Sioux Center, IA 51250

The South Dakota House passed the “Help Not Harm Act” late last week by a 60-10 margin. Three Republicans joined all seven Democrats against the bill.

Republican Rep. Bethany Soye said the bill is necessary because medical providers in South Dakota are becoming increasingly bold about what she called harmful chemical treatments and experimental procedures on children.

“In the guise of medical treatment, children are being mutilated, sterilized and turned into permanent medical patients,” Soye said. “Children as young as eight years old are receiving cross-sex hormones after only one counseling session and a leading South Dakota physician recommends that girls struggling with their identities receive double mastectomies while still in high school.”

Soye said the state must stand up for the vulnerable children in South Dakota. The bill will prohibit the use of puberty blockers to stop healthy development, the prescription of cross-sex hormones and irreversible surgeries leaving a child’s body permanently damaged.

Soye said that the science is on the side of the bill’s supporters, pointing to hospitals in Sweden, where such treatments have been given for decades, decided to stop providing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries for children under 18.

“They have seen the permanent damage that these procedures cause and cannot justify continuing the practice,” Soye said.

Soye said the procedures do not stop suicide. Just one long-range study exists on the topic and comes from Sweden. It shows that 5-8 years after undergoing the procedures, the suicide rate is even higher than it was prior to transition.

“As the study states and our witnesses will confirm, patients realize that their gender dysphoria was related to other underlying issues that remain untreated by the transition,” Soye said.

Studies show 80-90 percent of children who struggle with their gender identity come to accept and thrive in their biological sex if left to progress through natural puberty.

“That’s why this bill is needed now,” she said. “We need to stand in the gap for vulnerable children and guide them through true health and healing.”

Democrat Rep. Erin Healy suggested the fact nobody from South Dakota who was a minor and decided to transition or de-transition testified in committee signifies the issue isn’t present in the state.

“That makes me wonder why we’re talking about this today in our body,” Healy said. “This isn’t really happening in South Dakota.”

Healy called gender-affirming care “critical” for trans adolescents. She said they deserve to live authentically and predicted banning this care as a way to force families to leave South Dakota. Healy said it is “really disrespectful” to the medical profession to reduce guidelines on gender-affirming care that have been created over the course of the years.

“This is sensationalism at its finest,” the patient experience strategist said. “And it does not deserve to be heard in our state capitol. We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

Republican Rep. Liz May said the medical field has been wrong previously, like in the 1960s when they approved lobotomies.

“And everybody has to remember the case of a famous family, the Kennedys, where they took their daughter to have this procedure done that wasn’t proven but it was out there,” she said. “And what happened to Rose? She lived the rest of her life in a vegetative state. We’ve also seen the medical industry promote cocaine. Used it, overused it, caused lots of damage. So the idea that the medical, I call it the medical complex, I mean there are reasons that some of these things have to be overlooked by our citizens right. We would never in a million years think about allowing somebody to do a frontal lobotomy on somebody, not now. It sounds horrific. I don’t think this is any different.”

May pointed to the results from Sweden, calling them the leaders on this. And she said it’s important for South Dakota to stand up and say such treatments will not be available in the state.

“I just want everybody to take a breath and understand what we’re doing is for the better,” she said. “We’re not saying that you’re worth less or worth more or any of that. We want you to grow up and be able to make these decisions as an adult. We do that with alcohol. We do that with tobacco. We do that with a lot of things.”

Democrat Rep. Kadyn Wittman expressed concern over the costs of litigation regarding the bill. She called the bill anti-trans and discriminatory.

Republican Rep. Jon Hansen said just a year ago the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. They did so because the court found there isn’t a constitutional right to an abortion.

“So in light of that, I mean, are we really to think that that same Supreme Court is going to find somewhere in the Constitution a right to a doctor to go chemically castrate young children or inject them with cross-sex hormones? No way. No way. There’s no constitutional right to that. Imagine what the founding fathers would say if you told them that they wrote that into the Constitution.”

Hansen said legal experts have worked with the legislature and he believes the bill will pass legal muster.

“You know how much I’m willing to spend to defend these children from these practices? Every last cent that it takes,” he said. “Because I think it’s that important that we stand up and defend these young kids.”

Hansen said kids as young as eight have been subjected to these treatments. A girl as young as 13 in South Dakota was injected with testosterone.

For the most part, doctors in South Dakota do astounding work, he said.

“But sometimes doctors make grave mistakes,” he added. “This is one of those mistakes. Minor children suffering from gender dysphoria, they need appropriate mental health care. Not body mutilation.”

Democrat Rep. Linda Duba argued the bill takes away parental rights.

Republican Rep. Marty Overweg said parents indeed have rights, but they also have responsibility.

“We’ve heard from medical, we’ve heard from legal — now let’s look at it from a common sense state,” he said. “And I will say that any child six and seven years old that is having thoughts of gender or sex of any kind has been coached or from what they’ve watched or from what they’ve heard. Children do not come up with this on their own. Not these young children. And that’s where responsibility as a parent, responsibility as a grandparent takes over. They have their whole life to do whatever they want to do.”

Republican Rep. Jess Olson said passing a law to restrict the freedom of people in the state isn’t something she supports. She also said the state doesn’t need the law.

“You’ve just heard — parents can say no,” she said. “We don’t need a law to tell physicians no when we already have the tools in our toolkit to say no.”

Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch said three years ago the legislature heard from Dr. Keith Hansen that 20 patients every year receive these procedures.

“It’s in our database that this is happening here in our South Dakota and it’s our job to take care of these children,” Deutsch said. “That’s our job — the job of government to protect the weak and the defenseless.”

Republican Rep. Brandei Schaefbauer quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in support of the legislation.

That triggered a response from Democrat Rep. Kameron Nelson.

“Today we’ve heard some very gross comments from members of this legislative body,” he said. “I take great offense from using MLK’s words, who fought for justice, who fought for peace, who fought for fairness, who fought to give the individuals who have been marginalized in this country for years and years and years — to use his words to justify this is reprehensible.”

Nelson challenged supporters of the bill for telling trans kids they know better than those children about their identities.

Nelson compared gender-affirming care to circumcision.

“That’s healthy tissue,” he said. “Based on a choice by a parent, not of the individual. So I ask you, I ask you to do what’s right. I ask you to stop interfering between a patient and their provider. Between a child and their parent making the best decision for themselves. I ask that you find actual humanity within this space and I take great, great offense that this bill which was paraded around this Capitol, the peoples’ House, by way of a press conference for a bill introduction. That is disgusting. That is fear-mongering. And that has no place in this state.”

In her closing comments, Soye said people have to be “totally unaware of the news” in South Dakota to believe the issue isn’t happening in the state.

She also said she believes people will come to South Dakota because of the law, not leave it.

Ultimately, the bill is about protecting children.

“It’s because we care about these children,” she said. “We care about these children who are in pain, who have trauma, who are hurting and we want to guide them down a path of true help so that they can grow up and when they’re 18 they can make any decision they want.”

The bill advances to the South Dakota Senate.

Author: Jacob Hall


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here