Letter to SD House State Affairs Committee on Transphobic Legislation

The following is a letter sent to the South Dakota House State Affairs Committee regarding HB 1217 and 1247 in the 2021 Legislative Session. The bill is scheduled to be heard in committee on Monday, February 22nd.

Dear House State Affairs Representatives,
On Monday, you are scheduled to have hearings for two bills that target transgender and LGBTQIA2S+ individuals. As a constituent residing in District 12, I am urging you to vote NO on both of these bills for the following reasons.
HB 1217 is based on myths and misinformation. The idea that trans women would have an unfair advantage in women’s sports is harmful to all women. It perpetuates the notion that those who identify as women are somehow inferior and weak. Furthermore, as stated by the ACLU: It invites gender policing that could subject any woman to invasive tests or accusations of being “too masculine” or “too good” at their sport to be a “real” woman.” (source)
HB 1247 is an attempt to allow medical professionals to deny care to an individual based on “religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs or principles.” This article rebuts that idea simply: “Deeply held religious beliefs may conflict with some aspects of medical practice. But doctors cannot make moral judgments on behalf of patients.” A more nuanced look at the entire issue can be found in this article, published in January 2020. Here’s an excerpt:  “…Medical professionals voluntarily join a profession that is expected to serve society by providing essential services, all of which are legal and professionally accepted, and refusing to do so is incompatible with their professional responsibilities (Neal and Fovargue 2019; Schuklenk and Smalling 2017; Wicclair 2011).”
Just in case the links in text did not work for you, here they are in order: 

  1. https://www.aclusd.org/en/news/debunk-myths-fueling-anti-trans-legislation
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360408/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113216/#Sec3title
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113216/#CR34
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113216/#CR42
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113216/#CR52

Thank you for your time.

Here are the emails of the 2021 HSAC if you would like to send your own email:
arch.beal@sdlegislature.gov,
chris.johnson@sdlegislature.gov,
david.anderson@sdlegislature.gov,
jamie.smith@sdlegislature.gov,
jon.hansen@sdlegislature.gov,
kent.peterson@sdlegislature.gov,
kevin.jensen@sdlegislature.gov,
kirk.chaffee@sdlegislature.gov,
marli.wiese@sdlegislature.gov,
oren.lesmeister@sdlegislature.gov,
rebecca.reimer@sdlegislature.gov,
spencer.gosch@sdlegislature.gov,
tim.goodwin@sdlegislature.gov

An open letter on SDHB 1076

Transphobic legislation isn’t new to South Dakota. In 2020, 3 notable bills were put forward specifically targeting transgender youth. House Bill 1057 aimed to deny trans youth access to puberty blockers and gender affirming care. Senate Bill 88 attempted to require school counselors to out youth with feelings of gender dysphoria to their parents. Senate Bill 93 set out to empower transphobic parents to deny their gender non-conforming children medical care, including counseling and other psychiatric care.

Unsurprisingly, House legislators are starting right out of the session gates in 2021 with bill 1076. Essentially, this bill says the gender marker on a person’s birth certificate must match their sex assigned at birth. Read the full bill at https://mylrc.sdlegislature.gov/api/Documents/212531.pdf

My Letter to the House HHS

The following is a letter I wrote and sent to the Health and Human Services committee that will be voting on the bill at 8am on Tuesday, January 26th.
Feel free to copy any portion of it to write your own letter to the HHS committee.
I’ve added their emails to the end of this post.

Dear Representatives of the HHS Committee,
My name is Rachel, and I am writing today to urge you to vote NO on House Bill 1076.

This bill targets transgender individuals on the basis that a person’s sex assigned at birth should dictate their gender marker on their birth certificate. The justification for this argument is that a gender that does not match sex assigned at birth is “inconsistent with the science of biology and legislative intent, and therefore necessitates remedial legislation” (HB1076 line 21-22).I have a few corrections to this statement, with references for your convenience. 

  1. Sex and Gender are different. This article from the AP News explains it in detail, but the big takeaway is this: “Sex typically refers to anatomy while “gender goes beyond biology,” says Dr. Jason Rafferty, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, and lead author of the AAP’s transgender policy.”
  2. Science supports the existence of transgender people. For example, this study published in December 2008 finds, “transgender people appear to be born with brains more similar to gender with which they identify, rather than the one to which they were assigned” (Source).

With this information in mind, the justification for this bill no longer makes sense. Science supports the affirmation of gender identity even when it is different than sex assigned at birth. Therefore, the only educated vote on HB 1076 is a NO vote. 

Works Cited: 

Wu, Katherine J. “Between the (Gender) Lines: the Science of Transgender Identity”. Blog, Special Edition: Dear Madam/Mister President. 25 October 2016. http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2016/gender-lines-science-transgender-identity/

Alicia Garcia-Falgueras, Dick F. Swaab, A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity, Brain, Volume 131, Issue 12, December 2008, Pages 3132–3146, https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awn276

Luders E, Sánchez FJ, Gaser C, Toga AW, Narr KL, Hamilton LS, Vilain E. Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism. Neuroimage. 2009 Jul 15;46(4):904-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.03.048. Epub 2009 Mar 31. PMID: 19341803; PMCID: PMC2754583.

Rametti G, Carrillo B, Gómez-Gil E, Junque C, Segovia S, Gomez Á, Guillamon A. White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study. J Psychiatr Res. 2011 Feb;45(2):199-204. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.05.006. Epub 2010 Jun 8. PMID: 20562024.

House HHS Committee Emails

Aaron.Aylward@sdlegislature.gov,
Sydney.Davis@sdlegislature.gov,
Erin.Healy@sdlegislature.gov,
Kevin.Jensen@sdlegislature.gov,
Jennifer.Keintz@sdlegislature.gov,
Paul.Miskimins@sdlegislature.gov,
Carl.Perry@sdlegislature.gov,
Taylor.Rehfeldt@sdlegislature.gov,
Tamara.StJohn@sdlegislature.gov,
Kaleb.Weis@sdlegislature.gov,
Marli.Wiese@sdlegislature.gov