South Carolina governor signs into law ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law on Tuesday a ban on gender affirming care for minors who are transgender.

South Carolina was the 25th state in the nation to ban or restrict such care. The governor announced his signing on social media, and he said that he would sign a bill in a formal ceremony next week.

Health professionals are prohibited from performing gender transition surgeries, prescribing or overseeing hormone treatment for patients younger than 18.

The principal or vice principal of the school would need to inform parents or guardians when a child wants to use another name than their legal one or a pronoun or nickname that does not match their assigned sex at birth.

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The groups that support LGBTQ+ issues said that they were considering filing a lawsuit against state.

The Senate changed the bill to allow mental health counsellors to discuss banned treatments and suggest places where they can be legal. Doctors may also prescribe puberty blocks for certain conditions, such as if a child starts precocious or early puberty as young as four years old.

The Campaign for Southern Equality and other groups have noted the immediate effect of the law. The group is collecting resources to help families locate any assistance they may need outside of South Carolina, and the majority of the Southeast which has similar bans.

“Healthcare is an essential human right. It breaks my heart that lawmakers are denying transgender children in South Carolina life-affirming, and sometimes life-saving, medical care. “No one should have to leave South Carolina to get the medical care they deserve and need,” Uplift Outreach Center executive director Raymond Velazquez stated in a press release after the lawmakers passed the ban.

McMaster stated earlier this year that he was in favor of the proposal “to keep our youth safe and healthy”.

The governor stated that “if they wish to make these decisions as adults, it’s another story. But we must protect our youth from irreversible choices.”

Doctors and parents testified in front of House and Senate Committees as the bill was being advanced through the General Assembly that South Carolina does not perform gender-transition surgery on people under 18 years old and that hormone treatment is only initiated after consultation with medical professionals.

The treatments, they said, can save lives and allow young transgenders to lead more fulfilling lives. Transgender adults and youth are more likely to suffer from depression, stress and suicidal thoughts when they’re forced to act as the gender assigned to them at birth.

Supporters of this bill have cited unpublished evidence they themselves provided that puberty blocking agents can increase self-harm, and be irreversible.

The groups that assist transgender individuals have promised to continue their work despite the new law.

Cristina Picozzi is the executive director of Harriet Hancock Center a LGBTQ+ advocacy non-profit. She said: “To all the young people and parents in South Carolina who read this news and feel fearful for the future please know that no law can change the truth that you are deserving of dignity, equality and joy.”