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N. Carolina House finishes partial gender-affirming care veto override

Lawmakers voted along party lines to oppose a rejection of a bill that would bar medical professionals from providing certain care to those under 18.
N. Carolina House finishes partial gender-affirming care veto override
Posted at 5:37 PM, Aug 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-16 18:37:17-04

A GOP supermajority in the North Carolina House voted Wednesday to override the Democratic governor's veto of legislation to ban gender-affirming treatments for transgender minors, putting those youth just a vote away from losing access to that care.

The vote immediately followed a vote by the chamber overriding Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of another bill banning transgender girls from participation in girls' sports teams from middle school through college.

House lawmakers voted along party lines 73-46 to surmount Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the bill that would bar medical professionals — with limited exceptions — from providing hormone therapy, puberty-blocking drugs and surgical gender-transition procedures to anyone under 18. Minors who began treatment before Aug. 1 could continue receiving that care if their doctors deem it medically necessary and their parents consent.

The House vote leaves North Carolina one vote away from becoming the latest state to ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. Votes are also needed in the Senate to enact legislation over Cooper's veto powers.

The Senate, which has a similarly veto-proof GOP majority, signaled it would conduct the decisive, final veto override votes shortly. If it succeeds, the bill would immediately take effect.

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The GOP holds veto-proof majorities in both chambers for the first time since 2018, affording Republicans a clear path to consider certain LGBTQ+ restrictions that had not previously gained traction in North Carolina.

If the Republicans who control the General Assembly are successful, North Carolina would become the 22nd state to enact legislation restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for trans minors. Many of those laws are facing court challenges.

Gender-affirming care is considered safe and medically necessary by the leading professional health associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Endocrine Society. While trans minors very rarely receive surgical interventions, they are commonly prescribed drugs to delay puberty and sometimes begin taking hormones before they reach adulthood.

Parents of transgender and nonbinary children, like Elizabeth Waugh of Orange County, said they have been considering whether to move their families out of North Carolina so their children will have unrestricted access to gender-affirming care.

Waugh’s nonbinary child did not begin receiving treatment before Aug. 1 and would need to travel elsewhere if they decide they want to start taking hormones.

"I have felt like I had a lump in my throat for months," Waugh said Wednesday before the House vote. "Just talking to other families who are dealing with this, I mean, the pain that they are feeling, the suffering, the fear for their children — it's devastating."

Local LGBTQ+ rights advocates had been bracing for House and Senate override votes expected Wednesday. They said they were expecting both bills would become law and have vowed to challenge them in court.

The first override vote by the House came Wednesday on Cooper's veto of a bill that would prohibit transgender girls from playing on girls' middle school, high school and college sports teams. The House easily overrode that veto 74-45.

Supporters of that bill such as Payton McNabb, a recent high school graduate from Murphy, argued that legislation is needed to protect the safety and well-being of young female athletes and to preserve scholarship opportunities for them. But opponents said it was discriminatory, a measure disguised as a safety precaution that would unfairly pick on a small number of students.

"The veto of this bill was not only a veto on women's rights, but a slap in the face to every female in the state," said McNabb, who says she suffered a concussion and neck injury last year after a transgender athlete hit her in the head with a volleyball during a school match.

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