South Carolina enacts ‘extreme’ restrictions on trans healthcare for adults

Trans people and allies hold up signs calling for protections for gender-affirming healthcare (including puberty blockers), trans youth and trans inclusion in sports during protest

South Carolina has been criticised for passing a ban on gender-affirming care for trans young people, as well as imposing “extreme” restrictions on healthcare for transgender adults. 

On Tuesday (21 May), South Carolina’s Republican governor, Henry McMaster, signed bill H4624 into law, which bans all gender-affirming care – including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery – for those under the age of 18. 

The legislation also imposes restrictions on access to gender-affirming care for trans adults, by limiting which public healthcare and insurance providers can cover the cost of trans healthcare. The law went into effect immediately, making South Carolina one of dozens of states to limit gender-affirming care for trans people since 2021.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 39 per cent of trans youth aged 13 to 17 are living in the 25 states – including Texas, Florida and Ohio – that have banned gender-affirming care.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of LGBTQ+ organisation GLAAD, branded the restrictions extreme, adding that politicians are aiming to “eradicate” transgender people’s ability to thrive.

“H4624 in South Carolina is one of the most extreme attacks on transgender Americans in the country and will hurt countless families and residents while helping no one,” she said.  

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“Anti-transgender extremists claimed that their surge of attacks against basic access to healthcare were in the interest of protecting children, yet it’s clearer than ever that their goal is to eradicate the ability of transgender people to live and thrive in any aspect of their lives.

“To transgender Americans in the South and to those watching all over the country, no political manoeuvre can erase the fact that you exist, you belong here and you are loved.”

The new South Carolina legislation was passed despite trans children, their families and medical experts testifying against the bill in January, with the parents of a 15-year-old girl saying her mental health had improved significantly since she had access to gender-affirming care.

A survey last year found that a majority of Americans across all ages (57 per cent) are in favour of trans adults having access to gender-affirming healthcare.

Additionally, most of those surveyed (63 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds, 73 per cent of 35-64 year olds, and 83 per cent of those aged 65 and older) believe US politicians are not informed enough about gender-affirming care for trans young people to make fair policies.

The HRC claimed that Oklahoma, Texas and South Carolina have considered banning care for trans adults up to the age of 26.

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