Nation’s Leading Health Care Organizations Urge South Dakota Governor to Veto HB1008

By Adam Polaski • February 22, 2016 • 1:44 pm

In the week since the passage of South Dakota House Bill 1008, which would restrict restroom and facility use for transgender children in public schools, the nation’s leading health professionals have urgently called on South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard to veto the bill. The measure, which now awaits Gov. Daugaard’s decision to veto, would make South Dakota the first state in the nation to ban transgender students from using the restroom that matches the gender they live as every day.


Many different health organizations and associations have weighed in on the horrible bill, which would punish transgender people simply for being who they are – in the place where they should feel safest: school. The bill would have sweeping, negative implications for students’ mental and physical health. For years, the most respected health organizations in the country have decried any discrimination or singling out of transgender individuals, especially children. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, supports laws that protect transgender people and opposes all attempts to impose discrimination.

Here’s how organizations are speaking out specifically about HB1008:

The National Association of School Psychologists

“Despite misguided messages conveyed by the media and the public at large, allowing transgender students to use the facilities that match their gender identity has no negative effect on non-transgender students. Anecdotal experience from schools across the country covering millions of students supports this. Transgender youth are among society’s most marginalized populations, experiencing high levels of societal rejection and victimization. HB 1008 reinforces the incorrect notion that transgender students are not entitled to the same dignity and respect as their peers and conveys a message to students that it is okay to mistreat, harass, and abuse transgender students. HB 1008 also increases transgender students’ risk of experiencing serious negative health and mental health consequences. Restricting a youth’s bathroom access has shown to have detrimental effects to include outing students (forcing someone who presents and identifies as male to use a female restroom and thus be labeled a girl), risk medical problems (bladder infections from inability to void one’s bladder), and academic difficulties (missed classroom instruction from having to go to designated bathrooms further away).”

Read the full letter (PDF).

The Pediatric Endocrine Society Board of Directors

“A bill that requires students at state public schools to use restrooms and other facilities based on their “chromosomes and anatomy” at birth not only targets transgender youth and subjects them to the potential for great harm, but is fundamentally flawed, as it is based on the incorrect notion that gender identity is determined by one’s sex chromosomes. As professional experts in the field of chromosomes and genital anatomy, we would like to point out that there are numerous examples where chromosomes and anatomy don’t match [….] Transgender youth need the support of family, school, and community to thrive, as do all young people. The eyes of the country are on South Dakota. Please do not create unnecessary hardship for these vulnerable youth, and please veto HB 1008.”

Read the full letter (PDF).

South Dakota Association of School Psychologists

“On behalf of the South Dakota Association of School Psychologists, we are writing you regarding HB 1008 to urge you to veto this bill. As school psychologists, one of our top priorities is to make sure that schools are a safe place for all students. HB 1008 instead places students at risk physically and emotionally. Transgender youth are among society’s most at risk populations, experiencing high levels of societal rejection and victimization, which can often lead to serious negative health and mental health consequences. HB 1008 amplifies those negative messages and reinforces the incorrect notion that transgender students are not entitled to the same dignity and respect as all students. This will not only cause transgender youth to doubt their self-worth, but signal to their peers that it is okay to mistreat, harass, and abuse transgender students. The unfortunate consequences of this victimization include suicide attempts, depression, substance abuse, dropping out of school, and other negative health outcomes. It is noted that the negative effects of harassment and discrimination are severe and lasting. The results of such are costly monetary and in the loss of lives. This bill prevents schools from creating a safe environment for all students.”

Read the full letter (PDF).

World Professional Association for Transgender Health

“By singling out students who are already fragile, already at risk for bullying, abuse, even suicide, because of a profoundly felt difference that is beyond their control, HB 1008 creates a new, officially sanctioned level of oppression for gender-variant or gender-diverse children directly. Singling them out makes them even larger targets for their peers’ curiosity or derision. Not letting them function normally in the gender with which they identify can create psychological problems: anxiety, depression, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other consequences, often with life-long damage. It encourages prejudice against these young people, contributing to objectification of others and false assumptions about gender-variance among the very peers who should be their friends. [….] Please do not contribute to the hysteria that needlessly punishes transgender people. We urge you to veto HB 1008, and look to guidance from the U.S. Department of Education concerning including transgender students in public schools.”

Read the full letter (PDF).

William Byne, M.D., Ph.D. • Icahn School of Medicine: Department of Psychiatry

“Transgender students are a small, vulnerable part of society that, like all students, needs the support of family, school, and community to thrive. What happens in South Dakota is being watched around the country and may set a precedent for actions by other states. I urge you to please not add to the burden of this small, vulnerable group.”

Read the full letter (PDF).

Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

“There is no scientific proof that forcing Trans and Gender Nonconforming Youth to use separate bathrooms and locker rooms leads to any benefit for either these students or their peers. School policies need to be based on evidence and research – not on misinformation and biased opinions. TGNC youth thrive and succeed when they are supported both by their schools as well as by their families. HB 1008 subverts the potential for these students to feel safe, valued, and to succeed.”

Read the full letter (PDF)

interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth


“This bill would invade the privacy of South Dakotans, increase stigma and discrimination, and open up the state to legal liability. For the aforementioned reasons I strongly urge you to veto HB 1008. Should you have any further questions, we would look forward to the opportunity to discuss this further and elucidate the reasons why this bill should be vetoed. We would also be happy to provide medical professionals experienced in this field to discuss these issues.”

Read the full letter (PDF)

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