In recent years, transgender activists have pushed for life-changing medical interventions for children confused about their gender identity and advocated for boys identifying as girls to compete in sports against biological girls.
Now, a movement to push back against the transgender movement is beginning to take place.
One of its early victories came in South Dakota this week. Lawmakers voted 46 to 23 in the statehouse to pass a bill that would ban doctors from performing sex-reassignment surgeries like mastectomies and from dispensing puberty-blocking drugs to children under the age of 16.
State Rep. Fred Deutsch, the bill's sponsor, told CBN News he hopes the legislation will protect children in ways similar to other laws already in place. "We don't let them smoke. We don't let them drink. We don't let them vape," he said. "It just makes sense that we don't want them to be recipients of cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers as young children."
Lawmakers in several other states are considering similar legislation and Deutsch says he's aware of a dozen or so states that will soon introduce such bills.
He cited a Texas case as helping to galvanize the movement. CBN News and a number of other media outlets have followed the plight of a seven-year-old boy, caught in a custody battle with parents who disagree about his gender.
Deutsch said it served as a "tipping point" for many lawmakers, convincing them to move to safeguard children from medical interventions.
Transgender advocates say that Deutsch's bill will undermine health care for children.
"This legislature is compromising the health care of trans youth in dangerous and potentially dangerous ways," said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU in South Dakota.
Some of the most prominent medical voices in South Dakota and across the country also support pediatric transgender medicine.
The Pediatric Endocrine Society issued a statement in October applauding puberty blockers, calling the treatment "reversible" and a good way to alleviate the distress of those suffering from gender dysphoria.
But some endocrinologists, like Dr. Michael Laidlaw, note that there's no FDA evidence to support the claim. Others are concerned that there's no long-term studies supporting the effectiveness of the rapidly growing field of pediatric transgender medicine. Sixty-five pediatric gender clinics have opened their doors in recent years.
Protecting Women's Sports
Lawmakers are also considering a new crop of legislation that aims to protect female athletes in high school from trans athletes who can easily outmatch them on the playing field, thanks to biological differences such as bone density, lung capacity, and physical strength.
GOP lawmakers in nine states have sponsored bills that would help to level the playing field with requirements such as mandating that boys who want to compete as girls identify as a girl on their birth certificate.
That would help in states like Connecticut, where two boys who identify as girls now hold 15 state championship track titles.
Two female track athletes have filed a federal discrimination complaint with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, saying that their opportunities for recruitment and college scholarships are being negatively impacted by the state's transgender policy.
In Washington, a group of GOP lawmakers in the House has introduced a bill to protect female athletes. It would deny Title IX funds to women's sports that allow biological male athletes to compete against biological female athletes.