GOP Lawmaker Compares Nazi Medical Experiments to Gender Confirmation Surgery: 'The Pictures Seem Similar to Me'

A GOP state lawmaker on stepped back from "inappropriate" comments he made during an interview with the president of a fundamentalist Christian group in which he likened gender confirmation surgery to Nazi medical experiments conducted during the Holocaust.

Rep. Fred Deutsch, a Republican in the South Dakota House of Representatives, made the remarks while trying to introduce a law to ban doctors from performing gender confirmation procedures.

The legislation would also ban doctors from prescribing puberty-blocking or hormone drugs for children under the age of 16.

Speaking to the radio show of the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, Deutsch described feeling driven to introduce HB1057 after seeing pictures on the internet of children with scars from undergoing gender confirmation surgery.

Newsweek subscription offers >

"And it's terrible, that should not ever be allowed," he said. "To me, that's a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by the so-called doctors that dance on the edge of medicine. I just don't think it should be done.

"I'm the son of a Holocaust survivor. I've had family members killed in Auschwitz and I've seen the pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don't want that to happen to our kids and that's what's going on right now."

Later on in the interview, Deutsch told Perkins he has been getting a lot of hate mail while trying to pass HB1057, adding that "some people just cannot communicate opposition without going overboard."

Deutsch later defended the comments, telling the Argus Leader he noticed similarities between Nazi eugenic experiments and gender confirmation surgeries having visited a "whole bunch of Holocaust museums all over the world."

Newsweek subscription offers >

"It's very personal to me. It's just a simple reflection that the pictures seem similar to me," he added.

Deutsch made the remarks on January 22, five days before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

In a further statement to Newsweek, Deutsch added: "All I meant is the pictures of mutilated post-surgical bodies that some transgender people have shared online remind me of pictures of other people I have seen from the Holocaust.

"It was not meant to be a comparison, just a personal reflection. In reflection, it was an inappropriate comment I should not have said."

Michael Laidlaw, an endocrinologist in California, made a similar remark during a House committee hearing on HB1057 on January 22 when highlighting medical professionals undertaking harmful procedures, reported the Argus Leader.

"Examples in the United States, the despicable Tuskegee syphilis experiment on African-Americans," Laidlaw said. "The entire German medical establishment was behind atrocious human eugenics experiments in Nazi Germany, including untold numbers of children."

The remark was dismissed as "ridiculous" by Rep. Jamie Smith, the House Democratic leader on the committee. "What doctors are providing is the best care they know for their patients," Smith said.

The South Dakota House moved to change the vote on the bill to Wednesday, January 29. The ACLU of South Dakota said it will fight any attempt to pass the bill into law.

"By blocking medical care supported by every major medical association, this legislation represents a callous disregard for the health and wellness of South Dakota's transgender youth, some of the most vulnerable people in our state," said Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, in a statement.

"We want South Dakotans to know that we are investigating all of our legal options. If this bill becomes law, it will be challenged. We will see you in court."

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Family Research Council as a hate group that makes false claims about the LGBT community "based on discredited research and junk science."

This article has been updated with further comment from Deutsch.

Rep. Fred Deutsch
Rep. Fred Deutsch has defended comments he made comparing gender confirmation surgeries to Nazi medical experiments. South Dakota House
GOP Lawmaker Compares Nazi Medical Experiments to Gender Confirmation Surgery: 'The Pictures Seem Similar to Me' | U.S.