South Carolina is the 25th state to pass an anti-trans healthcare ban

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People holding a large banner that reads "Trans for justice solidarity against transphobia"
First trans solidarity rally and march 2015, Washington, DC (Photo by Ted Eytan)

A new South Carolina law will require that a healthcare professional “shall not knowingly provide gender transition procedures to a person under 18 years of age.” Otherwise medical professionals are at risk for losing their licenses. The bill affects students in a way New Jersey is familiar with.

The new law, HB 4624 passed in the South Carolina Senate 28-8 and in the House 67-26. It was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster who in January called the bill a “good idea.” The law, while banning trans healthcare in South Carolina, also demands that school professionals must not withhold a student’s gender expression or identity if it doesn’t align with what the student identifies with at home.

This version of “forced outing,” as dubbed by LGBTQ activists, is unfurling across a handful of school boards throughout New Jersey.

New Jersey, is one of 23 states with full LGBTQ protections. Throughout the Garden State many out of state far-right anti-LGBTQ actors are coming to public forums to spread propaganda, as reported in March

Since New Jersey’s transgender guidance is only a suggestive policy, it is many times ignored by local Boards of Eduction. Many Garden State towns are not fully enforcing the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) say some activists. They say many trans students are being treated differently than their non-trans peers. 

Almost a year ago Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin challenged “allegedly unlawful policies” enacted by three different school districts at the time.

“All of the data show affirming schools are a lifeline for LGBTQ+ students,” said Lauren Albrecht in an April press release. She is the director of advocacy and organizing for Garden State Equality. “So when schools don’t know — or outright reject research-backed, educator-approved, and, until recently, uncontroversial guidelines for — how to meet the well-documented needs of these students, it isn’t hyperbole to say lives are at risk.” 

Meanwhile, in South Carolina HB 4624 prohibits health care providers from administering puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgeries to trans minors, though youth receiving care prior to Aug. 1 will be allowed to wean off their medication. However, care must cease entirely by Jan. 31, 2025. 

This anti-trans law makes South Carolina the 25th state to ban lifesaving healthcare accordingh to major medical associations for two-spirit, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people and youth. In a Jan. 9 House subcommittee hearing, 47 South Carolinians spoke in opposition to the law, including the president of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said the ACLU of South Carolina. 

Any opposition to the law directly targets trans youth and their parents’ autonomy in healthcare. The law also is a threat of carceral punishment towards their healthcare providers.

“After months of overwhelming testimony against House Bill 4624, over the objections of the state’s leading pediatricians and medical organizations, our lawmakers decided to take away the rights of parents to make healthcare decisions for their children. We urge Gov. McMaster to veto this harmful and unconstitutional bill,” said Jace Woodrum, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina before the bills signing. The organization found in research that HB 4624 lacks much popular support. 

Recent findings show, in a Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy poll, that parents are already in the decision making process supporting their trans kids. The poll asked registered South Carolina voters the following question: “If parents are already involved in the decision-making process, do you feel the government should or should not intervene in LGBTQ gender-affirming health care decisions that regard individuals under the age of 18?” 

Of those who participated, 71% of respondents stated that the government should not intervene.

“As a transgender man who grew up in South Carolina, I want better for trans youth today. Their rights, and the rights of their families, are not a political plaything,” said Woodrum at ACLU of South Carolina. “Today we were disgusted but not surprised to see politicians throw out medical expertise, scientific evidence, and the heartfelt testimony of loving families of trans kids. A vote for this bill is to rip away healthcare from vulnerable kids who deserve much better.”

Lana Leonard
Lana Leonard (they/them) is a graduate from The College of New Jersey with a degree in journalism and professional writing. They work at the GLAAD Media institute and freelance for publications like LGBTQ Nation while working on their journalistic theory of change project: Late Nights with Lana, a talk show based out of 10PRL film studios in Long Branch, NJ. Lana's mission, in all their work, is to focus on people, their collective truths and how those truths form a community of knowledge towards change.