RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Three North Carolina Republican lawmakers introduced a bill Monday that would prevent doctors from performing gender reassignment surgery for transgender people younger than 21.
The legislation follows a nationwide trend of GOP-controlled state legislatures looking to limit treatments for transgender adolescents. Unlike other states, however, North Carolina would classify adults between the ages of 18 and 21 as minors under the “Youth Health Protection Act.”
Medical professionals who facilitate a transgender person's desire to present themselves or appear in a way that is inconsistent with their biological sex could have their license revoked and face civil fines of up to $1,000 per occurrence. The measure bars doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery.
Senate Bill 514 would also compel state employees to immediately notify parents in writing if their child displays “gender nonconformity” or expresses a desire to be treated in a way that is incompatible with the gender they were assigned at birth. LGBTQ advocates fear the bill would out people under 21 who tell state workers that they may be transgender.
“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,” said a statement from the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, adding that "a person’s gender identity shouldn’t limit their ability to access health care or be treated with dignity and respect.”
Republican state Sen. Ralph Hise, who represents portions of western North Carolina and wrote the bill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. GOP Sens. Warren Daniel and Norman Sanderson, who represent western and coastal areas of the state, respectively, also support the proposal.
In Arkansas on Monday, the state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, vetoed a bill that would have made his state the first in the nation to ban gender confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth under 18.
The proposal in North Carolina will almost certainly not become law, despite GOP majorities in both the state House and Senate. Senate leader Phil Berger was not immediately available for comment on whether he supports the measure and wants it to go to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
North Carolina Democrats last week unveiled a legislative package aimed at ensuring LGBTQ residents have greater legal protections. Among the plans put forward was a full repeal of House Bill 2, the state’s so-called “bathroom bill” that was passed in 2016 and partially repealed a year later. State lawmakers also pushed to prohibit gay conversion therapy practices. The bill introduced Monday by the three GOP senators would not allow the state or any licensing boards to punish people who provide therapy that is consistent with their conscience or religious beliefs.
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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.