Ban on gender-affirming care for transgender children heads to Gov. Cooper’s desk

RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) – A bill that would ban hormone treatments, puberty blockers and surgery for transgender minors is on its way to North Carolina’s governor.

WRAL reports on what appeared to be a party-line vote Wednesday afternoon, the Republican majority in the state House gave it final approval, despite emotional pleas from Democratic lawmakers.

House Bill 808 would ban all doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to minors, even with parental consent. Doctors who break the law could lose their licenses or face civil lawsuits from former patients up to 25 years later.

Unlike another version of the bill also approved recently by the state House, HB 808 includes a “grandfathering” provision to allow minors currently receiving gender-affirming medical care to continue their treatment with parental consent.

Rep. Allison Dahle, one of four openly LGBTQ+ lawmakers in the state House, was in tears as she asked her colleagues across the aisle not to support the measure, saying it will cause great harm to transgender children, who are already at a much higher risk of suicide than their non-trasngender peers.

“You’re saying you don’t matter, we don’t value you, we don’t care about you. Because you don’t need medical treatment, because you’re not human,” Dahle said. “So what we’re saying is, go ahead, kill yourself. End it.”

“Just stop it,” Dahle continued. “You are taking rights away from parents who want to take care of their children. If you don’t agree with it, then don’t do it. Don’t seek that help if you don’t agree with it. That’s your choice as a parent. You cannot take that choice away from other parents.”

“Using children as a political football simply to enrage your voters is despicable,” said Rep. John Autry, D-Mecklenburg.

Autry has spoken several times about his transgender granddaughter, Savannah. He said the gender-affirming care she received when she needed it was life-changing for her. He described a voicemail he received after the last time he spoke about her on the House floor.

“It said, ‘Cry more, groomer.’ Groomer. How despicable. How low do you have to be to say that to someone that was speaking in defense of their grandchild?” Autry said. “Maybe the cruelty is the point.”

Rep. Ken Fontenot was one of just two Republicans to speak in the bill’s favor. He read quotes from people he claimed were members of the LGBTQ+ community who oppose giving medical transitioning support to minors.

Fontenot, R-Wilson, dismissed arguments by Democrats that every major medical association in the country supports gender-affirming care for minors.

“In the 50s and 60s, we also agreed with frontal lobotomies, and the atrocities that caused. At the same time, we agreed with shock therapy and the atrocities that caused,” Fontenot said. “We as a nation have been at the forefront of medical blunders time and time again.”

“And this is no different,” Fontenot continued. “The whole point of this is to protect our most vulnerable population from these atrocities, the detransitioning that we’re seeing and the dangers that come with it.”

According to experts in the field of gender care, over the decades that medical transition care has been available, detransitioning has been quite rare, averaging around 2%.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is likely to veto it, setting up yet another veto override fight when lawmakers return after a weeklong Fourth of July break.

Eventually, the measure is likely to end up in court. Similar bans in other states around the country have been blocked by federal judges. Just last week, a federal judge in Arkansas called their version of the bill unconstitutional.