Transgender health care restrictions gain steam in North Carolina
Proposals to ban or to restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender youth advanced Wednesday in both chambers of North Carolina’s Republican-controlled General Assembly in the final weeks of the session.
The House voted 66-47 along party lines for a bill prohibiting public health care facilities, such as public hospitals or University of North Carolina affiliates, from performing any surgical gender transition procedure on a minor, or providing them with puberty-blocking drugs or cross-sex hormones. It also prohibits using state funds to pay for gender-transition procedures starting Oct. 1 and removes access to care for trans youth who are already receiving that treatment at a state facility.
Gender-affirming care is considered safe and medically necessary by the leading professional health associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Endocrine Society. While trans minors very rarely receive surgical interventions, they are commonly prescribed drugs to delay puberty and sometimes begin taking hormones before they reach adulthood.
Several Democrats, including Rep. Allison Dahle of Wake County, pleaded with their Republican colleagues to block the bill and stop legislating trans lives.
“Every time this bill comes up, I spend about two hours crying because you’re asking people to change everything about them and abide by your rules,” she said on the House floor.
Pitt County Republican Rep. Timothy Reeder, one of the bill’s sponsors, called it a “common sense” measure that he said will protect children from receiving life-altering treatments before they are old enough to consent to them.
The bill now heads to the Senate, which advanced a more stringent treatment prohibition through a committee earlier Wednesday.
That proposal would ban any health care provider in the state from providing gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy, puberty blockers and surgeries, to anyone under the age of 18. Minors who begin treatment before Oct. 1, when the restrictions take effect, could continue receiving care if the doctor deems it necessary and the parents give consent.
Medical professionals who violate the restrictions could have their licenses revoked under the bill.
It must clear at least two more committees before it reaches the Senate floor and would still need to return to the House for a final concurrence vote before it reaches the governor’s desk.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has expressed previously his opposition to bills that target trans youth, has little power to block legislation now that Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers.
State Republicans have advanced several bills this week that target LGBTQ+ youth, including a ban on trans girls playing on the school sports teams that align with their gender identity, which could receive final approval as soon as Thursday. Another bill that gained momentum Wednesday in the House would limit conversations about gender identity and sexuality in public schools and would require teachers to alert parents before calling their child by a different name or pronoun.