If you’ve heard of Republican lawmaker Rep. Fred Deutsch, a legislator who represents South Dakota’s Florence district, it’s likely because of his considerable history of pushing anti-trans legislations. As Daily Kos has covered in the past, Deutsch has pushed a bill that would have punished physicians for providing gender-affirming treatments to transgender and nonbinary youth. Deutsch at one point compared gender-affirming surgeries for transgender youth to Nazi medical experiments (he later said he regretted the comparison). He, along with a handful of other Republican state legislators across the country, also once championed a transphobic bathroom bill that would have forced transgender people to use the incorrect bathroom for their gender identity. Both of those did not pass committee, thankfully.
His most recent act? Sponsoring H.B. 1076, a bill that would ban transgender people from updating their sex on birth certificates. If the bill passed, it would mean people could only amend birth certificates within the first year.
As a quick review, what does it mean to update one’s sex on a birth certificate, and why does it matter? Here’s an example. If your sex was assigned male at birth (say, by your physician), you might want to update your designated sex on your birth certificate to female. This process is essentially paperwork that happens at court. Why does it matter? Your updated birth certificate can help you, for example, update your identification, like a passport or other photo ID, and, frankly, is a means of having correct and up-to-date information in your personal records. This accuracy can also be hugely important when it comes to health insurance processes, medical care, job applications, and even housing opportunities. An incorrect sex marker on official documents can be hugely confusing when it comes to paperwork, not to mention triggering for the individual involved.
Making sure that your documents align with your identity is empowering, validating, and makes sure that transgender and nonbinary people are not erased from public record and history. Makes sense, all around.
Now, here’s what is a little more confusing. On Tuesday, the vote on Bill 1076 failed in the House Health and Human Services Committee, with a vote of 7-6. Excellent! Not so excellent? As reported by The Grandforks Herald, lawmakers then revived the bill that had just been voted down by the health committee. Lawmakers in the full South Dakota Statehouse invoked Joint Rule 7-7, allowing them to simply stand and show their support for Rep. Deutsch’s motion. The local outlet says that at least 27 Republicans stood in an effort to revive the bill.
Why is Deutsch so fixated on the subject? As he argued to local outlet KELOLAND News, “There’s a problem with the courts in South Dakota interpreting sex differently, some courts grant the benefit to change sex on a birth certificate and others deny it.” Imagine if we simply made it easier for trans and nonbinary folks to update their personal documents?
“Either biology matters or it doesn’t,” Deutsch stated, as reported by the Brookings Register. Here’s a hint: It doesn’t.
So, the bill is back on. What does that mean in practice? That the bill will get a vote in the full statehouse sometime soon.
You can catch snippets from Tuesday’s session below.
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