South Dakota Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch’s anti-trans mission is more elaborate than we could’ve imagined. A slew of emails have been leaked to Mother Jones, exposing communications between Deutsch and a network of activists and organizations at the forefront of the anti-trans movement.
In August 2019, Deutsch emailed 18 anti-trans lawyers, doctors, and activists, alerting them of a bill he planned to introduce that would make it a felony for doctors to give transgender children under 16 gender-affirming medical care. “I have no doubt this will be an uphill battle when we get to session,” Deutsch wrote in the email. “As always, please do not share this with the media. The longer we can fly under the radar the better.”
The anti-trans messages are no longer “under the radar” as multiple emails have been obtained, highlighting the lengths Deutsch’s legislation is willing to go to to ban trans care. Some responses to the email suggested that Deutsch make the bill even more restrictive.
Vernadette Broyles, the president and general counsel of a Georgia-based law firm called the Child & Parental Rights Campaign, responded in the email thread, requesting that the age threshold being raised to to 18.
Deutsch’s legislation, the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, was killed in the Senate at the time following protests led by doctors. “Though our session in SD is now over and our efforts to protect gender-confused vulnerable children failed, I continue to receive ugly email and social media posts,” Deutsch emailed the group in 2020.
Margaret Clarke, general counsel for the Alabama branch of the Eagle Forum wrote: ““Please do not say that the South Dakota effort failed!!” […] You connected us all to each other. This is just the beginning.”
Unfortunately, Clarke was right about the Vulnerable Child Protection Act being just the beginning. This legislative session, at least 18 other states have considered similar bills.
Deutsch’s efforts found success after a few years of strategic anti-trans alliances and plans were formed through the email chain. Gov. Kristi Noem signed an updated version of Deutsch’s Vulnerable Child Protection Act this February. The new law takes away licenses from doctors who provide minors with gender-affirming care, and requires health care providers to cut off puberty blockers and hormones for any kids who are already receiving treatment, therefore forcing them to detransition.
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