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Bills Seek to Address Gender Dysphoria and Sexual Identity Issues

Last week, in preparation for a “legislative spring break” of sorts, lawmakers in the State House and Senate filed a multitude of bills. Among these were several measures designed to address the health and safety of children dealing with gender dysphoria and sexual identity issues.

Several of these bills are aimed at protecting minor children from so-called “gender-affirming” treatments, such as the administration of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and sex-reassignment surgeries. A separate bill would help protect medical practitioners, health care institutions and health insurance providers who object to providing certain health care services on religious, moral, or ethical grounds. And several other bills, would protect fairness in athletics by prohibiting biological males from participating on girls’ sports teams. The following is a brief summary of related bills that have been introduced thus far this session.

HB 43—Prohibitions of Certain Hormones/Surgery/Minors, sponsored by Reps. George Cleveland (R-Onslow), Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort), Bill Ward (R-Pasquotank), and Steve Tyson (R-Craven), would prohibit medical professionals from performing so-called gender transition procedures, such as surgeries or the administration of puberty blocking medication or cross-sex hormones, to anyone under age 18. Professionals who engage in the procedures could face revocation of their license, discipline from their accrediting board, and fines up to $1000 per occurrence.

SB 560—Medical Treatment for Minors Act  was filed in the Senate by Sens. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), Jim Burgin (R-Harnett), and Kevin Corbin (R-Macon) and is similar to HB 43. In general, this bill would prohibit medical professionals from performing gender transition procedures on minors. SB 560, however, would allow these procedures on minors with the written consent of both parents and the minor and certification from two physicians “that the patient suffers from a condition that would benefit from a gender transition procedure.” While NC Family fully supports parental rights, this provision is very troubling because many of these treatments are irreversible and result in sterility. Additionally, as many as 90 percent or more of youth who suffer from gender dysphoria revert back to identifying as their biological sex in their late teens and early 20’s. The bill also prevents the utilization of state funds for these procedures.

SB 639—Youth Health Protection Act, sponsored by Sens. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Buck Newton (R-Wilson), and Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico) would also prohibit transition procedures on minors, but additionally would bar mental health professionals from knowingly engaging in “conduct that aids or abets the practices described” on a minor. In support of parental rights, the bill forbids government agents, such as school teachers and counselors, from encouraging minors to hide their gender dysphoria from their parents, and legally binds the agents to notify both parents in writing if their child is experiencing “gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor’s sex.” Language in this bill also prohibits State or local agencies and licensing bodies from penalizing individuals for receiving or giving counsel based on their conscience or religious beliefs.

The same three senators also sponsored SB 641—Medical Ethics Defense (MED) Act which would provide conscientious protections to a medical practitioner, health care institution and health care payer (i.e. insurance company) who objects to participating or paying for any health care services that violates his, her or its “religious, moral, or ethical beliefs or principles.” Such services would include gender transition drugs and procedures. The bill would also enhance North Carolina’s existing conscience protections relating to abortion and protect conscientious objectors from civil, criminal, or administrative liability and from discrimination in employment.

Republican members in both chambers have also filed bills aimed at supporting women’s and girls’ sports. House Bill 574, sponsored by Reps. Jennifer Balkcom (R-Henderson), Karl Gillespie (R-Macon), Erin Paré (R-Wake), and Kristen Baker (R-Cabarrus) is essentially identical to Senate Bill 631, which is sponsored by Sens. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), and Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell). This legislation, entitled “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” would require athletic teams in middle and high school to be designated as male, female, or coed. The bill specifies that teams designated for females “shall not be open to students of the male sex.” It further specifies “a student’s sex shall be recognized based solely on the student’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

Finally, SB—636 School Athletic Transparency, sponsored by Sens. Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell), Todd Johnson(R-Union), and Tom McInnis (R-Moore) would prohibit the participation of biological males in women’s and girls’ sports in NC schools. Similar to the two previously described bills, this measure stipulates that all teams will be “expressly designated by the biological sex of the team participants” as either male, female or coed, and that the student’s sex shall be based on their genetics and reproductive biology at birth. They do allow for females to play on male teams if there is no comparable female team for a sport, and as long as the sport is not a contact sport. SB 636 also seeks to address treatment for concussions and head injuries.

NC Family is grateful to the sponsors of these important bills. We will keep you posted on their progress through the NC Legislature.


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