SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The transgender community of South Dakota and their advocates are waiting as House Bill 1080 is sent to Governor Kristi Noem’s desk for her signature — Republican lawmakers have said she supports the bill.
HB 1080, which prohibits gender-affirming health care for transgender minors, was passed 30-4 in the Senate Thursday.
The first annual Transformation Project Gala was meant to be a night of celebrating trans-resilience, but the evening had a somber mood hanging over it — just hours before South Dakota Senators voted to pass House Bill 1080.
“To the transgender community — you are loved, you are valued and I am so sorry that this is where our state is. But please know that we will never back down from this fight,” Libby Skarin with the Transformation Project Advocacy Network, said.
If Governor Kristi Noem signs House Bill 1080 into law, gender-affirming hormones, surgery and puberty blockers will be restricted in the state for minors.
“It’s something that has affected my future deeply considering I’ve been working on trying to get my own gender-affirming care within like less than a year,” Elliot Morehead, a trans teen said. “I was hoping to maybe start any kind of treatment for myself and now our legislators, who are supposed to support us, have taken away that opportunity for me and I’m bummed.”
Sixteen year-old Elliot Morehead testified against this bill in Pierre. They say they had finally just received their letter that would allow them to make an appointment with a doctor to discuss health care options.
“People think you can just like walk in and then get like testosterone or estrogen or puberty blocking — it doesn’t work like that,” Morehead said.
Advocates are standing beside Morehead and other transgender youth as they process what has happened in Pierre.
“It’s a real devastating blow for families that do have gender-affirming health care for their children. We’re just going to take it day by day and see what we can do to make sure that those families are feeling supported and have a place to turn to,” Susan Williams, executive director of the Transformation Project, said.
“There are countless people right here and right now who love them, support them and know that they’re existence in this world is a beautiful gift,” Skarin said.
And Morehead won’t be backing down.
“Not everyone supports or likes who I am and I’m fine with that and I’m just going to be me anyway, no matter what the legislators think,” Morehead said. “Whether they think they know who I am and that I can just grow out of something. I’m going to fight and I’m going to be myself authentically. That’s it.”
Across the border in Minnesota, state lawmakers there have introduced a bill that would protect transgender people, their families and doctors from legal repercussions for traveling to Minnesota to receive gender-affirming care. The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee amended the bill and laid it over for future consideration.