Republicans Deny Parental Rights and Healthcare to Transgender Youth


February 7, 2024

This morning, South Dakota Republicans denied a parent’s right to decide the best healthcare for their children. SB 216 would have allowed transgender youth to receive gender-affirming care if they have parental consent. According to the World Health Organization, gender affirming care encompasses a range of social, psychological, behavioral, and medical interventions “designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity” when it conflicts with the gender they were assigned at birth. Several medical groups support gender-affirming care such as the American Medical Association, Endocrine Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, National Association of Social Workers and many more.

Parents of transgender children testified before Senate Health and Human Services, saying their right to make the best decisions for their children were taken away. Lawmakers also heard testimony from transgender people about the importance of gender-affirming care and that their choice to be their authentic self has also been taken away.

“Sitting in the committee meeting, I was getting multiple texts from parents of transgender kids,” said Susan Williams, Executive Director of the Transformation Project. “We are all incredibly disheartened with the decision today. This committee voted against parental rights, voted against the doctor/patient relationship, and went against all major medical associations support of gender-affirming care.”

Instead, Republicans listened to the false information about gender-affirming care. Opponents said these treatments harm kids and that people who transition later regret that decision. Others said that people should wait until they get older and go through puberty before receiving gender-affirming care. Rep. Bethany Soye (District 9) mentioned the closure of the UK’s only dedicated gender identity clinic. What she forgot to mention is that new centers opened to support children who are struggling with their gender identity.

The prime sponsor of SB 216, Minority Leader Sen. Reynold Nesiba, released the statement below.

“Yesterday, in the same room, I brought three pro-worker bills. Republicans voted unanimously with the business and insurance lobbies,” said Sen. Nesiba. “Today I brought a bill to put parents back in charge of their children’s healthcare decisions. Republicans again sided with lobbyists representing religious extremists. 16-year-olds can get married, but can’t get puberty blockers. Republican legislators in Pierre appear to think they know better than South Dakota families and medical professionals when it comes to healthcare decisions.”

This decision to defeat SB 216 comes just a few days after the State of South Dakota apologized to the Transformation Project and paid the group $300,000 for the abrupt cancellation of a Department of Health contract in 2022.

For questions, you can contact the SDDP Executive Director Dan Ahlers at or contact the state party office by phone at 605-271-5405 or 605-940-3071.

Paid for by the South Dakota Democratic Party |