COLUMBIA – The South Carolina Senate discarded the testimony of the leading medical experts, transgender South Carolinians, and the families of trans youth today, voting to pass a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth (House Bill 4624).

The bill will return to House to accept the changes made in the Senate, and if approved, it will head to the desk of Governor Henry McMaster. Among other things, this bill would do the following:

  • Ban medically necessary care for transgender youth in South Carolina. This includes the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy, which would become illegal for transgender youth despite peer-reviewed evidence showing their effectiveness in treating the effects of gender dysphoria. (Gender confirmation surgery is not performed on minors in South Carolina.)
  • Make life-saving healthcare more expensive and harder to access for many trans adults in South Carolina by interfering with what state-run insurance plans can cover.
  • Force teachers and possibly other school employees to out transgender youth to their parents, endangering young people with unsupportive families.

Civil rights organizations from across the state responded to the news of the bill’s passage.

“This bill is an extreme political attack on the wellbeing of children and on the right of families to obtain evidence-based care for their children,”  said Jace Woodrum, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina. “Transgender people belong in South Carolina, and we will never stop fighting.”

“Pediatricians support the wellbeing of ALL children, and this bill is contrary to that mission. Gender-affirming care is suicide prevention care. To our LGBTQ+ youth and families, we see you and you are important,” said Dr. Elizabeth Mack, MD, MS, President of the SC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Rather than prioritizing the real issues facing South Carolinians, our lawmakers shamefully chose to promote hate, fear, and discrimination under the guise of ‘protecting kids,’” said Kelli Parker, Director of Communications for the Women’s Rights & Empowerment Network (WREN). “Laws that block essential healthcare violate human rights and are a major setback for equality.”

“Denying transgender people access to medically-necessary healthcare is not only a violation of their basic human rights but also an egregious display of intolerance. We will not back down and will continue to stand in solidarity with our transgender community today in their fight for their dignity, respect, and equal rights,” said Chase Glenn, Executive Director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance.

“Today South Carolinians came together with a mosaic of voices and stories urging our lawmakers to say NO to H.4624,”said Ivy Hill (they/them pronouns), a leader in the SC United for Justice & Equality coalition. “This bill inserts the government into the private medical decisions of transgender people – including youth AND adults – and asserts that South Carolina lawmakers know what’s best for us. But make no mistake: It’s not over until it’s over, and we will be organizing tirelessly in the hours ahead to ensure that we’ve left everything on the field and pushed back against this legislative attack with everything we have.”

In addition to lacking medical evidence and violating the civil liberties of South Carolinians, H. 4624 lacks popular support. A recent poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy asked registered South Carolina voters the following question: "If parents are already involved in the decision-making process, do you feel government should or should not intervene in LGBTQ gender-affirming health care decisions that regard individuals under the age of 18?" The results were unequivocal: 71% of respondents stated that the government should not intervene.

At a January 9th House subcommittee hearing on this bill, 47 South Carolinians spoke in opposition to this bill, including the president of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. One person, an out-of-state representative of the far-right Alliance Defending Freedom, spoke in favor of it via a virtual testimony. The House committee and the full House voted to the bill anyway, citing Reddit posts and half-remembered statistics from a 60 Minutes segment as their evidence.

A Senate subcommittee heard testimony, but cut off opponents of the bill before they could finish. On Feb. 14, South Carolinians speaking in opposition to H. 4624 continued to testify for an hour on the State House steps after the subcommittee hearing ended.