Three Republican legislators in North Carolina have introduced perhaps the most repressive anti-transgender health care bill in the nation.
Senate Bill 514, titled the Youth Health Protection Act, would ban gender-affirming treatment, including surgery, hormones, and puberty blockers, for anyone up to age 21, whereas other bills of this nature would ban it up to age 18. It was introduced Monday by Sens. Ralph Hise, Warren Daniel, and Norman Sanderson.
The bill "will almost certainly not become law, despite GOP majorities in both the state House and Senate," the Associated Press reports, as North Carolina has a Democratic governor, Roy Cooper. However, legislators in Arkansas Tuesday overrode Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of a bill banning gender-affirming health care for anyone under 18, making the state the first in the nation where such a bill has become law.
The North Carolina measure, as its text states, would also require employees of "any governmental entity," including school districts, to notify a minor's parents or guardians if the minor "has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor's sex." This would mean teachers and counselors, among others, would be required to out trans young people to their families, at a time when the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction announced that it would update its policies to better respect trans students' privacy.
The bill further claims that sex "is genetically encoded into a person at the moment of conception, and it cannot be changed," and that "minors, and often their parents, are unable to comprehend and fully appreciate the risk and life implications -- including permanent sterility -- that result from the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical procedures."
The penalty for violation would be revocation of a medical professional's license and "other appropriate discipline" by the professional's certification board and a fine of up to $1,000 per occurrence. Violators could also be sued.
Additionally, the bill would ban the use of state funds, including through insurance plans, for gender transition procedures; this provision appears to apply to procedures for people of all ages. And it would bar state and local governments or licensing boards from taking action against anyone who provides therapy "consistent with religious belief," therefore supporting conversion therapy. Democrats in the legislature have introduced legislation to ban the practice, along with bills banning anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination statewide, banning LGBTQ+ "panic" defenses for crimes, and repealing any vestiges of 2016's House Bill 2, the infamous "bathroom bill."
Civil rights activists in North Carolina quickly condemned SB 514 and another piece of legislation recently introduced by Republicans, Senate Bill 515, which "would allow any medical provider -- defined so broadly to reach all health care entities as well as individual staff at hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, or pharmacies -- to refuse to do anything they object to on the basis of conscience, including even providing information or referrals," according to Equality North Carolina. This would create "a broad and dangerous 'license to discriminate' against LGBTQ people, pregnant people, or people of differing faith backgrounds," says an Equality NC press release.
"Our state learned a lesson all too painfully with HB2: Extreme bills that target LGBTQ people harm individuals, communities, and the fabric of our state itself," Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality," said in the release. "We're working toward building communities across North Carolina where every LGBTQ person can thrive: That means being treated with dignity and respect, it means living free from discrimination, and it means being able to access the health care you need and deserve in your hometown."
"It's heartbreaking -- though not unexpected -- to see these direct, repeated attacks on trans and gender-nonconforming youth in North Carolina and across the country," added Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equality NC. "These attempts to control the bodies and medical decisions of parents and their transgender children are invasive, inappropriate, and outright dangerous. Decisions about a child's medical welfare should be made between that child, their doctor, and their parents or guardians -- not lawmakers. We cannot legislate the transgender community out of existence. It is the job of all lawmakers to understand their entirety of their constituency and mitigate challenges instead of creating barriers."
"This is the latest in a series of coordinated attacks on health care access for trans and gender-nonconforming youth across the country, the true aim of which is to push trans and nonbinary people out of public life," Chantal Stevens, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said in the release. "Not only are these bills rooted in falsehoods, hate, and fear-mongering, but they also invade the private interactions between each of us and our medical providers. Just as North Carolina is recovering from the damage wrought by HB2 on our reputation and economy, let's move forward together to build equitable communities rather than doubling down on being a state that legislates hate."