Fred Deutsch

This content was last updated Oct. 4, 2023, 7:38 a.m. UTC

Fred Deutsch is an American Republican politician, a member of South Dakota’s House of Representatives. He is best known as the author of one of the earliest anti-transgender “bathroom bills” in the United States, and his collaboration with multiple anti-transgender activists, which was revealed in the 2023 Elisa Rae Shupe leaks.

To me, that's a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by these so-called doctors that dance on the edge of medicine … You know, 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.

Deutsch, on South Dakota House Bill 1057, 22 January 2020

Education and Work

Deutsch graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1979, then went on to receive a degree in chiropracty from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1983.

Deutsch worked as a private practice chiropractor with his wife, Kathleen, until they retired in 2020. He was also a member of the school board of Watertown, in Codington County, South Dakota, until November of 2011.

South Dakota Bathroom Bills

In February of 2016, Deutsch sponsored one of the nation’s earliest anti-transgender bathroom bills with the support of The Heritage Foundation and the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls. Had the bill passed, it would have restricted transgender students to the bathrooms associated with their assigned gender at birth, exposing them to targeted harassment and potential for violence. Students at Watertown High School gathered over 200 signatures declaring the proposed legislation discriminatory. In March of that year, then-governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed the bill, stating, “[the bill] does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota.”

In January of 2020, Deutsch sponsored another piece of anti-transgender legislation: a bill that would criminalize treatment of transgender youth 15 and under, including hormone replacement therapy and cosmetic surgeries. The bill would have made standardized, gender affirming methods of care for transgender youth a felony charge that could have imprisoned doctors for up to 10 years.

The bill received considerable backlash from physicians and medical organizations, in particular about the clear lack of education regarding affirming care for transgender youth by Deutsch and his colleagues. It passed South Dakota’s House of Representatives, then died in the Senate.

Shupe Leaks

In March of 2023, Elisa Rae Shupe, a transgender woman who had previously detransitioned and worked with anti-transgender lobbyists and politicians, decided to retransition. She exposed her former peers and colleagues in the anti-transgender movement by sharing hundreds of saved email correspondences between members of the secretive work group influencing the anti-transgender political machine behind the scenes.

These emails tied together many high-profile anti-transgender activists, such as Vernadette Broyles, André Van Mol, Michelle Cretella, Michael Laidlaw, Paul Hruz, and others.

Among many other collaborations, it was also made clear by Shupe’s email leaks that this secretive work group helped workshop Deutsch’s 2020 bill, using Christian nationalist language throughout their correspondence and lending editorial aid and guideline suggestions leading up to the sponsoring and debating of the bill.

Though that bill failed to pass, it served as the foundation for a similar bill in South Dakota sponsored by Bethany Soye that passed in February of 2023.

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