Trans kids and medics urge South Carolina lawmakers to block healthcare ban

Man holds sign reading "protecting trans youth"

Trans kids, their families, and medical experts are pleading with Republican lawmakers in South Carolina to block their proposed ban on transgender healthcare.

On Wednesday (10 January), lawmakers heard from witnesses and experts on House Bill 4624 which, if passed, would ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors, force teachers to our transgender students, and ban Medicaid coverage for trans healthcare up to the age of 26.

Medical experts and key witnesses warned that the deeply restrictive legislation could have deadly implications for South Carolina children.

Trans kids, families, and medical experts pleaded with South Carolina lawmakers to block a ban on gender-affirming care. (Anatoliy Cherkasov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Among those testifying against the bill on medical grounds was pediatrician Dr Deborah Greenhouse, who informed the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs that, contrary to what they might believe, trans minors in South Carolina do not undergo gender-affirming surgeries. Rather, trans youth who do qualify for gender-affirming care with “fully-involved” parents’ consent, are more likely to have access to hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers, which can be lifesaving treatments.

Backing up this exact point were parents Dave and Rebecca Bell, who spoke on behalf of their 15-year-old transgender daughter.

The couple revealed that it had taken years for their daughter to get approved for gender-affirming care, with seven visits to an endocrinologist over a three-year period. But, when their child was finally approved for treatment with puberty blockers, they noted a significant difference in her mental health.

“She did take antidepressants, but in fact, after starting HRT she was able to stop taking them,” they shared.

Elsewhere in the committee hearing, Dr Elizabeth Mack, who is the president of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pointed out that gender-affirming care is only provided to trans minors, following meticulous protocols, after thorough consultation with doctors and parents.

A person holds a sign reading "kids should feel safe to be who they are" in the colour of the trans pride flag
House Bill 4624 would block trans minors from accessing gender-affirming care and ban Medicaid coverage for trans healthcare up to the age of 26. (Getty)

“Minors are not making these decisions solo,” she said.

Dr Mack also pointed out that gender-affirming care for minors is approved and endorsed by every mainstream medical organisation as a safe practice if administered correctly.

Some people shared their testimony anonymously; like one 17-year-old transgender child, who feared what might happen to them if the bill was passed.

“I cannot give you my name because I am one of the kids at risk of physical harm if my family knows I am trans,” their letter read. “South Carolina’s trans kids are all watching you today. We are afraid.”

Another anonymous letter from the mother of a trans man recalled how her son was able to get top surgery, testosterone, and a name change, which led to him being able to “live proudly every day with his true voice.”

The letter added: “He still has the normal difficulties. He had a fight with his best friend. He stresses over finals. Life is still hard, but he doesn’t wake up each day hating his name, his body, and his voice. He is my son.”

An activist holds a placard with the words 'Protect Trans Youth'
Only one of the 48 people who testified was in favour of the harmful legislation. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty)

Only one of the 48 people who testified was in favour of the legislation; Matt Sharp of the Alliance Defending Freedom, who dialed in from out of state.

After the committee hearing concluded, those who testified against the bill held a rally outside the Statehouse, complete with signs, chants, and a large transgender pride flag draped across the steps of the building. 

Rally attendees have promised to challenge the legislation in the event that it does eventually pass, which is unfortunately looking likely.

After hearing hours of testimony against the bill, the lawmakers voted to advance it to the House floor.


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