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Jan. 17, 2024Columbia, S.C.  |  By: AP

South Carolina Republicans weigh transgender health restrictions as Missouri sees similar bills


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Restrictions on medical care for transgender minors are up for debate in the South Carolina House on Wednesday, as a slew of like-minded proposals receive discussion in a Missouri legislative committee.

The measures’ consideration highlights the continued interest among conservative lawmakers in targeting issues impacting transgender residents after last year’s wave of high-profile bills.

South Carolina is one of the few Southern states without a ban on gender-affirming care for minors. Its Republican-dominated House was expected to debate a bill Wednesday that would bar health professionals from performing gender-transition surgeries, prescribing puberty-blocking drugs and overseeing hormone treatments for patients under 18 years old. People under 26 years old could not use Medicaid to cover the costs for such care.

Missouri’s Republican legislative leaders have said LGBTQ+-related bills are not a top priority this session after lawmakers last year passed a partial ban on gender-affirming health care treatments for minors and limits on what sports teams student athletes can join based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

Still, a Missouri House committee on Wednesday was scheduled to debate a slate of anti-transgender legislation, including a measure to apply the ban on gender-affirming health care to all minors and repeal its 2027 expiration date. Other legislation under consideration would regulate public school bathroom use and define male and female in state laws as being based on a person’s sex assigned at birth.

The bills are among dozens this year in red states designed to restrict medical care for transgender youth — and in some cases, adults — or to govern the pronouns students can use at school, which sports teams they can play on, and the bathrooms they can use, along with efforts to restrict drag performances and some books and school curriculums.

At least 22 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and many of those states face lawsuits. Courts have issued mixed rulings. Enforcement is blocked in three states and enforcement is allowed in seven others. The Ohio Senate later this month is expected to override Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of that state’s ban.

Major medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose the bans and have endorsed such care, saying it’s safe when administered properly.