COLUMBIA, S.C. – A bill banning gender transition procedures for South Carolinians under the age of 18 is halfway to reaching Governor Henry McMaster’s desk.

After six hours of debate, Bill H.4624 was passed in the House on Wednesday, Jan. 17, with an 82-23 vote. Similar bills of this kind have been introduced in both chambers in years past, yet none have been able to maintain momentum.

The legislation outlaws any gender-affirming care for minors, such as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and any gender assignment surgery. It would also require public school administrators to alert parents if their child “presented a different perception of their gender”. Healthcare providers could also lose their medical licenses.

“More harm than good”

Amberlyn Boiter grew up a child of a Baptist pastor in Piedmont, South Carolina. After years of denying her reality, she stepped out as a transgender woman at the age of 34.

“I tried to keep all those feelings bottled up and in the closet, all of those things. Eventually, in 2021, I just wasn’t able to hold it in any longer,” Boiter said.

Flash forward roughly three years, Boiter is now the President of PFLAG Spartanburg, an organization dedicated to uniting the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

“Bill H.4624 would be harmful to transgender youth who are currently receiving gender-affirming care because it would require them to come off of it,” Boiter said.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, many transgender people experience what is known as “gender dysmorphia”. A distress that results from one’s gender identity not matching their sex assigned at birth.

“I don’t personally know what it’s like to be a youth who received gender-affirming care, but I do know what it was like to be a youth who didn’t receive that care. It caused a lot of lifelong problems,” Boiter said.

She understands this care to be critical.

“The whole point of gender-affirming care is that it is medically necessary,” Boiter said. “That [the bill’s passing] will cause major mental distress for a lot of youth, and I have very little doubt that it will result in deaths by suicide.”

“Aimed to Protect”

Supporters argue Bill H.4624 is solely meant to shield children from making “life-changing decisions.”

“We simply don’t know to what extent puberty blockers and hormone treatments have… The science simply does not exist on what taking hormones for 80 years does to the human body,” Rep. RJ May (R – Lexington) said.

Twenty-two other states have passed bans prohibiting gender-affirming care for those under the age of 18. Several were blocked by federal judges who ruled the legislation as unconstitutional.

Yet, sponsors of the bill compared the ban to other limitations that exist within United States law.

“Your child can’t drink; your child can’t get a tattoo. Your child can’t do a number of things. Even with parental consent,” Rep. Richard Cash (R – Anderson) said.

Despite the backlash, some S.C. Republican lawmakers dismissed the concept of gender .

“I don’t believe there is good scientific evidence for the affirmative care model. It’s peer pressure that’s driving this, and the peer pressure is happening in the public schools,” Rep. Richard Cash (R – Anderson) said.

The legislation is undergoing committee consideration in the Senate. If approved, it will go to the full Senate floor for a vote.

Bill H.4624 will then advance to Governor McMaster for his final signature. He will have until May 9 to sign it into law.