South Carolina proposed bill SB627 that could ban not only medical care, but any services that “aids or abets” trans minors in their transition, introducing a new level of violation for those providing gender-affirming care.
Introduced on Mar. 14 by Republican Sen. Danny Verdin, who is the Chairman of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in South Carolina, this bill could prohibit services such as mental health care, voice therapy, hair reconstruction, or “other various aesthetic procedures.”
The new addition of “aid and abet” in bills seeking to ban gender-affirming care can also be seen in recent bills in Mississippi’s HB1125, Indiana’s SB480 and Iowa’s SF538. In law, to “aid and abet” means to assist in committing a crime, which in this case means that not only is gender-affirming care for trans youth a crime in itself, but that any means of assistance classifies as one, too. As of now, in Mississippi and Iowa alone, their “aid and abet” bills have already passed into law.
Under South Carolina’s SB627, those who provide gender-affirming services to those under eighteen would be subject to “unprofessional conduct” with the possibility of a medical license revocation. The bill also notes that a case could be brought to trial no later than two years after the occurrence.
“Gender-affirming care is the standard of care and is suicide prevention care,” said Elizabeth Mack, who is a pediatric critical care physician and President of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization that advocates for the medical needs of children.
“Threatening children, their parents and their health care teams is not safe for children,” Mack said. “If SB627 becomes law, we will see more preventable deaths.”
According to the ACLU map tracking anti-LGBTQ bills in the country, South Carolina is amongst 13 other states with more than ten anti-LGBTQ bills—with Texas still at the lead at 49 bills.
Matthew Butler believes SB627 is an attempt of trans community erasure in the state. Butler is part of the ACLU of South Carolina, and is currently the Interim President of The Harriet Hancock Center Foundation, an LGBTQ center at the heart of Columbia, S.C. The foundation is also a part of the South Carolina United for Justice & Equality, a coalition advocating for bodily autonomy and supporting civil rights for LGBTQ people.
Butler believes that the state’s attempt to eradicate the trans community doesn’t just stop at the legislature itself, as his impression of the subcommittee hearing on Mar. 23 felt limited in ways that might be intentional.
“They’re limiting testimony [and] it doesn’t feel like a public comment,” Butler said, who was under the impression that many people would get to speak during the meeting. However, even when the subcommittee notified people that public speeches would be limited to 12 individuals against and 12 individuals for SB627, there were no clear instructions on where and how to sign up.
“There’s a lot of legislative cloak and dagger going on,” Butler said, “but we’re trying to stay vigilant South Carolina.”
One of the people who testified, along with Mack, was Deborah Greenhouse, a pediatrician-in-practice at Palmetto Pediatric and Adolescent Clinic in Columbia who tells Reckon that SB627 would be detrimental for suicide rates for trans youth.
“The legislation would clearly show that the state of South Carolina does not value transgender youth and is not invested in protecting their health or safety,” said Greenhouse, who also notes the alarming rate of depression, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts amongst trans youth that she has worked with.
According to the 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health by The Trevor Project, 50% of LGBTQ teens considered suicide, with nearly 1 in 5 trans and nonbinary youth having attempted to end their own lives. The survey also notes that 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care last year were unable to receive it.
“The data from scientific research clearly shows that transgender youth benefit from gender affirming care and that suicide risk decreases with this care,” Greenhouse said. “There is no medical justification for this legislation.”
During the subcommittee meeting, there were no votes on whether to advance the bill, though a four-hour public meeting is in place for tomorrow at 9 a.m. for more testimonies.
To learn more about how you can support LGBTQ rights in South Carolina, Mack recommends showing up and testifying at the hearing tomorrow against SB627.