On Wednesday, Republican supermajorities in the North Carolina House and Senate overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto on three anti-trans bills, stripping transgender youth of their rights to access gender-affirming healthcare, to play sports, and to learn about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.
House Bill 808- “Gender Transition Procedures on Minors”
The first anti-trans bill passed by the General Assembly bars medical professionals from providing hormone therapy, puberty-blocking drugs and surgical gender-transition procedures to anyone under 18. Minors who had already begun treatment before August 1st will be able to continue receiving treatments, with parental consent. This policy takes effect immediately, as North Carolina becomes the 22nd state to pass bills banning or restricting gender affirming care for minors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society, and other leading professional health associations consider gender-affirming care safe, developmentally appropriate, and medically necessary. Just two weeks ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed its support for gender-related medical treatments and condemned the GOP’s attack on trans youth, saying that “it is critically important for every child to have access to quality, comprehensive and evidence-based care — transgender and gender-diverse youth are no exception.”
Trans and nonbinary youth have an extremely high risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Studies indicate that 86% of trans youth have considered killing themselves and 56% reported a previous suicide attempt. Gender affirming care such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy have been shown to reduce gender dysphoria and improve mental health for trans and nonbinary youth. Bills blocking access to necessary healthcare interfere in the physician-patient-family relationship and criminalize pediatricians, while putting already vulnerable youth at further risk.
House Bill 574- “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act”
North Carolina’s GOP passed HB 574 banning transgender girls from playing on a girls’ sports team from middle school through college. This discriminatory policy applies to private colleges and universities as well as public. According to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, there are only about 15 openly transgender high school student-athletes out of the 180,000 student-athletes in the state, or 0.0083%.
Senate Bill 49- “Parent’s Bill of Rights”
Lastly, SB 49 was passed restricting LGBTQ+ instruction in public schools. Similar to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, SB 49 prohibits instruction on gender identity and sexuality in Kindergarten through 4th grade classrooms and requires public school teachers to alert parents before they use a student’s chosen gender affirming pronouns or name, potentially outing trans or nonbinary children.
“The legislature finally comes back to pass legislation that discriminates,” said Gov. Cooper, “Yet they still won’t pass a budget when teachers, school bus drivers and Medicaid Expansion for thousands of working people getting kicked off their health plans every week are desperately needed. These are the wrong priorities.”
Cathryn Oakley, senior director of legal policy at the Human Rights Campaign, said, “Once again, the North Carolina General Assembly has prioritized anti-transgender discrimination over the well-being of North Carolina. Governor Cooper did the right thing by vetoing these hateful bills designed to rile up hate against LGBTQ+ people, but legislators are sending a clear message that North Carolina is not a safe place for us.”
North Carolina Republicans were able to gain a veto-proof majority when state Rep. Tricia Cotham switched parties after originally being elected as a Democrat. Cotham’s platform included support for LGBTQ+ rights, and yet she voted for all three anti-trans bills. These types of bills are incredibly dangerous for queer and trans children and we will not stop fighting these discriminatory measures.