Story at a glance
- A bill proposed in North Carolina’s General Assembly would restrict youth transgender access to health care.
- It would legalize faith-based treatments and mandate teachers and child care workers tell parents if children experience gender-nonconfirming behavior.
- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently vetoed a similar bill, only to have the state legislature override it.
The North Carolina State Senate introduced a new bill this week that would place restrictions on youth transgender access to health care as states nationwide reckon with similar legislation. Sens. Ralph Hise (R), Warren Daniel (R), and Norman Sanderson (R) sponsored the bill.
Senate Bill 514, or the Youth Health Protection Act, focuses on prohibiting minors from accessing various gender-affirming treatments, ranging from hormone blockers to sex reassignment surgeries.
The proposed legislation’s main argument is that gender dysphoria, or the mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity, may not be “permanent or fixed,” and pursuing medical treatments based on gender dysphoria diagnoses could result in long-term health complications.
As an alternative to medical intervention, the bill stipulates that medical professionals and health care providers cannot perform any gender-affirming procedures on a minor. Puberty-blocking medication, hormone therapy and more invasive surgeries would all be prohibited.
Additionally, government and school employees, among other professionals, are mandated to report to a child’s parents in writing if their child is exhibiting any symptoms of gender dysphoria or gender nonconformity.
Parents would also be allowed to withhold mental health services and other treatments and activities that “are designed and intended to form their child's conceptions of sex and gender or to treat gender dysphoria or gender nonconformity.”
The bill also legalizes therapies and counseling based on “conscience or religious belief.”
LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations have spoken out against similar bills gaining legal traction in states like Arkansas, Montana and Tennessee that restrict transgender youth access to sports, activities and health care treatments as harmful to transgender youths and people diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
“These types of bills endanger young trans lives,” Sam Brinton, vice president for advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, told The New York Times regarding a comparable bill that bans transgender youth health care access in Arkansas.
Some of the concerns propelling bills like the Youth Health Protection Act forward are not entirely factual, critics say. Puberty blockers, medically denoted as GnRH analogues, do work to suppress the body’s release of sex hormones, but the effects are not permanent.
The Mayo Clinic writes that these hormone blockers “pause puberty, providing time to determine if a child's gender identity is long lasting. It also gives children and their families time to think about or plan for the psychological, medical, developmental, social and legal issues ahead.”
The usage of GnRH analogue alone does not necessarily lead to other hormone treatments or surgeries.
Moreover, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not officially approved common brands of puberty blockers, the agency confirms that the review is ongoing and recommends that health care professionals should be aware of potential complications when determining if it is an appropriate treatment method.
“Transgender youth have the best chance to thrive when they are supported and affirmed, not singled out and denied critical care that is backed by virtually every leading health authority,” Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said, per NBC News.