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No transgenderism under age 18

The governor believes it can be put off until later in life


SC governor to sign bill banning hormone therapy for transgender youth into law

Treatments for youth already taking the drugs could be gradually taken off them through Jan. 31

COLUMBIA — A bill banning transitioning medications and surgeries for transgender children is set to become law after the House agreed Thursday to accept the Senate’s changes.

Gov. Henry McMaster plans to sign the bill into law, a spokesman confirmed shortly after the House voted 67-26 along party lines to send it to his desk.

“I think this is a good idea to keep our young people safe and healthy,” McMaster told reporters in January. “If they want to make those decisions later when they’re adults, then that’s a different story, but we must protect our young people from irreversible decisions.”

The bill would ban doctors from prescribing puberty blockers or gender-transitioning hormone therapy to transgender youth under the age of 18. Doctors or other health care providers who violate the ban would risk losing their license. A complaint would have to be filed with the provider’s licensing board within three years of the treatment.

Also disallowed are gender-transition surgeries, though both sides agree no doctors are performing such surgeries on minors in South Carolina. If they ever do, they’d risk being convicted of a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The Senate added a provision requiring school administrators to notify students’ parents when children ask to change their pronouns or say they’re a different gender. The House accepted that without debate.

South Carolina will join two dozen other states with similar bans, though some are blocked by court challenges.

Supporters of the bill have touted it as protecting children from what they say can be dangerous and irreversible surgeries and treatments. House Republicans listed the measure among their top priorities for the year, and the House passed it within the first week of session.

Opponents have said the bill will throw families into disarray and put transgender children at a higher risk of suicide. Democrats in both chambers also argued the state shouldn’t come in the middle of medical decisions that should be between a family and their doctor.

The bill will take effect with McMaster’s signature, if he signs it as stated.

However, it allows a phase-out for youth already in treatment.

Any minor taking puberty-blocking drugs or so-called “cross-sex” hormones under a doctor’s care before Aug. 1 can be gradually taken off them. All prescriptions must cease by Jan. 31, 2025.

Families of transgender children whose access will end can apply to get the treatment in a different state through the Southern Trans Youth Emergency Project, the Campaign for Southern Equality announced Thursday. That can include up to $500 to cover travel and other expenses, according to the nonprofit.

“No one should be forced to leave their home state to access the care that they need and deserve,” Raymond Velazquez, executive director of partner organization Uplift Outreach Center, said in a statement. “Through this program, we will ensure that families and young people understand that they have options – and that support is available to help them.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina is urging opponents to write McMaster demanding that he veto the bill they contend will violate patients’ constitutional rights by denying treatment based on gender identity.


Skylar Laird covers the South Carolina Legislature and criminal justice issues. Originally from Missouri, she previously worked for The Post and Courier’s Columbia bureau.

SC Daily Gazette is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.