South Carolina Governor Enacts Controversial Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Minors

Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina signed a bill prohibiting gender-affirming medical care for kids into law on Tuesday. Opponents referred to the law as a “cruel and dangerous assault on trans youth.”

With immediate effect, the bill forbids physicians from performing gender-transition procedures on kids younger than 18 or prescription puberty blockers.

This makes South Carolina the 25th state to limit or outlaw care that promotes gender identity.

“I signed the Help Not Harm bill into law, which protects our state’s children from irreversible gender transition procedures and bans public funds from being used for them,” McMaster, a Republican, wrote Tuesday in a post on X. “I look forward to joining legislators and supporters at a ceremonial bill signing in the Upstate next week.”

A new law in South Carolina prohibits the prescription of hormone therapy, puberty blockers, or surgery, as well as the use of public funds or Medicaid to pay for transition-related healthcare for citizens of any age.

Healthcare providers in South Carolina that treat adolescents in a gender affirming manner risk having their licenses revoked or being sued civilly. Physicians who operate on adolescents to change their gender may be charged with causing physical harm and, if found guilty, may spend up to 20 years in prison.

The new law in South Carolina mandates that school administrators get in touch with parents whose children wish to use pronouns or names other than the sex given at birth.

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The Help Not Harm bill was approved earlier this month in the state Senate by a vote of 28 to 8 and in the state House by a vote of 67 to 26.

H.4624, the new bill, was denounced by opponents as a “broad intrusion into medically necessary healthcare for transgender South Carolinians.”

In a statement released on Tuesday, Chase Glenn of SC United for Justice and Equality said, “This bill is a cruel and dangerous assault on trans youth and adults in South Carolina that ignores the guidance of every major medical organization.”

“Across the state, from the Lowcountry to the Upstate, South Carolinians are mourning the passage of H.4624, which will make it immeasurably harder for transgender youth and many adults to access the life-saving healthcare that they need and deserve,” Glenn continued. “But let me be clear: This loss does not crumble a movement.”

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With emergency grants to defray costs, the Southern Trans Youth Emergency Project has volunteered to assist transgender youth in locating gender-affirming healthcare professionals outside of their state.

Following the passage of the law, Raymond Velazquez, executive director of Uplift Outreach Center, stated, “Healthcare is a human right — and it breaks my heart to see lawmakers rip away life-affirming and often life-saving medical care from transgender youth in South Carolina.”

“No one should be forced to leave their home state to access the care that they need and deserve.”

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