GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)-A bill that would ban gender reassignment medical treatment before the age of 18 in South Carolina is being considered by the state House Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs
Republican Stewart Jones, a businessman who represents Laurens and Greenwood Counties, prefiled the “Youth Gender Reassignment Prevention Act” in November. If enacted into law, the bill would ban any medical treatment related to gender reassignment for anyone under age 18, except for behavioral health care services such as mental health counseling.
“I believe we should definitely have more freedom in healthcare, but in this case, the way I see it, children are being influenced by adults to make these decisions,” Jones said. “So they’re not being given a chance to make their own decisions. “
Jones said the bill will protect children, but members of the upstate LGBTQ community said it will have the opposite effect.
“This bill would protect vulnerable children against any potential dangerous treatments or surgeries for gender reassignment,” Jones said.
Jaime Fivecoat, who is an advocacy coordinator at Upstate Pride called the bill “horrible.”
She said she knows firsthand.
“I knew when I was four that I was very different,” said said. “What was in my head was very different from what was in the rest of my body was.”
Fivecoat, who transitioned herself, said this bill would harm an already vulnerable population.
“It’s totally wrong because they need the opportunity to not develop in a way that their brain isn’t situationed for them,” she said.
According to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, medical intervention for children with gender dysphoria can begin around the start of puberty with treatment to delay its onset. Then, in some cases, they can receive hormone therapy later in their teens. The association says genital surgery should not be carried out before the age of 18. Before any of this can be done, extensive mental health and social health exploration must be undertaken, according to the association.
“There’s definitely I think psychological issues that need to be addressed with a lot of people that do these things,” Jones said.
“The children who have identified as being transgender know what’s going on with themselves,” Fivecoat said.
Jones said he was inspired to bring this bill by a case out of Texas, where parents had been battling for custody of a child who was born a boy but identifies as a girl. Those parents disagree on the child’s gender identity.
If enacted, the law would allow medical professionals who break the law to be disciplined by the incensing board and even have their licenses revoked.