Letter - Dean 2-20-23

To the Editor:

HB 1080 is a bill which outlaws a wide range of treatment for young people struggling with gender identity issues.

I believe this is a deeply unfortunate piece of legislation which will do real harm to the very individuals it claims to help.

The passage of this bill was apparently based on alarming, but totally undocumented claims, about surgical mutilation, castration and other repugnant  procedures. Those claims are totally false. The procedures referred to are not even available in South Dakota. In essence, it appears the legislators were hoodwinked by aggressive and misleading promotion.

Also prohibited by HB 1080 are pharmacologic interventions - primarily puberty blockers. These medications have been in use for more than 30 years and have been shown to be safe and totally reversible. They basically slow down the process to allow kids and their advisors to sort out their issues. The drugs can then be stopped and puberty resumes. Their use has been supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society (hormone specialists) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

This is an extreme piece of legislation. It deals in a crude way with a highly complex and sensitive issue. Politicians have essentially elbowed aside the parents and experienced professionals and said “we know better.”

I believe we need to help kids who are struggling. We need to assist with beneficial interventions. We need to protect them from harmful treatment - ignoring the problem can be as harmful as bad treatment. HB 1080 is a major setback to reaching this goal. It does a serious disservice to a group of young folks who are at an immensely troubling – and dangerous - time in their lives.

Dr. Tom Dean, MD
Wessington Springs