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North Carolina lawmakers give final OK to ban gender-affirming care for trans children

by Andrew Wright
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On Wednesday, North Carolina’s legislators endorsed a bill barring certain gender-affirming treatments for children and blocking state funds from facilitating such procedures.

The House voted in favor of the bill 67-46, following Senate’s approval on Tuesday. The new legislation restricts medical professionals from offering hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and surgical gender transition to anyone under 18, except in specific medical scenarios.

Existing treatments started before Aug. 1 can continue if deemed medically necessary and parental consent is obtained.

The Republican-authored bill is now on its way to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who is likely to veto it, given his history of opposing laws that affect transgender youth. However, the Republicans have a slender veto-proof majority in both chambers.

Critics of the bill have already indicated the likelihood of legal challenges if the bill becomes law. Numerous states out of the roughly 20 that have laws limiting or prohibiting gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors face litigation.

Recently, Arkansas’ ban was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge, while a temporary ban in Kentucky was also blocked.

The bill’s final approval by the General Assembly came amidst passionate speeches by lawmakers. Critics view the denial of such care as harsh and a factor in increasing depression and suicide risks among transgender youth.

“You’re telling them they don’t matter, they’re not valued, and are not considered human because they don’t require medical treatment,” stated Rep. Allison Dahle, a Wake County Democrat.

Proponents of the bill argue the need for thorough examination of such transformative treatments due to their long-term consequences, and suggest that such procedures should be delayed until legal adulthood.

“We aim to safeguard our most vulnerable population from such horrors,” stated Rep. Ken Fontenot, a Wilson County Republican.

Renowned professional health associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the Endocrine Society view gender-affirming care as safe and medically necessary. Although surgical procedures for trans minors are rare, they frequently receive medications to delay puberty and occasionally start hormone therapy before reaching adulthood.

The bill stipulates potential revocation of licenses for healthcare providers who violate the rules, along with possible monetary damages from an adult alleging harm from treatments received as a child.

Also awaiting Governor Cooper’s decision is a bill passed last week prohibiting transgender girls from participating in middle school, high school, and college sports intended for girls.

Additionally, a comprehensive public school education measure, close to final legislative approval, would ban teaching about gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms. The measure would also mandate teachers to inform parents in most situations before addressing a student by a different name or pronoun.

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