Bill to exclude transgender women from sports dead this legislative session

A bill to exclude transgender women from women’s sports won’t move forward this legislative session, according to N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

The bill simply isn’t needed as there has been no verifiable problem with transgender women playing sports in North Carolina, Moore told the Associated Press Thursday.

“The House will not be taking up that bill,” Moore told The Associated Press. “We’ve spoken with the bill sponsors and others and simply believe that there’s not a need to take it up at this time.”

The announcement follows word last week from the office of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) that a bill to bar gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth would not move forward as it did not have the votes to overcome a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper.

Both bills faced pressure from state and national sports organizations, including the NCAA, which has itself been feeling pressure to pull tournaments from states that have already passed such bills. States that have passed such bills have already seen legal challenges.

Moore denied to the AP that the announcement of Apple’s new East Coast campus coming to the state, and bringing 3,000 jobs, was related. But Gov. Roy Cooper said the company told him the partial repeal of HB2, which excluded LGBTQ people from non-discrimination laws, helped with the company’d decision.

On Thursday Moore told the News & Observer that the the legislature shouldn’t go looking for volatile social issues to get into.

“We had no examples of where this is really a problem and I’m a believer that you shouldn’t pass legislation unless there’s a problem you’re trying to address,” Moore told the paper. “I mean, obviously, these things can spin up and get really controversial and all of that so you know before you go down that road, there needs to be, I would say, an articulated problem.”

Buncombe County passes first LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in Western NC

The Buncombe County Commission unanimously passed a LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance Tuesday night, becoming the 7th local government to do so since a statewide moratorium on such protections was lifted late last year.

Similar ordinances have passed in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, and Hillsborough, as well as Orange County.

“As a lifelong Buncombe County resident, I could not be more proud of my local government for doing the right thing by ensuring that all people – including LGBTQ people – are protected from discrimination,” said Allison Scott, director of Impact & Innovation at the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“This ordinance is a big step toward elevating the values we share in Western North Carolina,” Scott said. “Taking pride in our work, caring for our neighbors, giving back to our communities, and treating everyone the way that we want to be treated – with dignity, compassion, and respect. LGBTQ folks in our county, especially the many transgender young people who have been hurting this year, will feel safer, more welcome, and more included because of the Commission’s vote.”

Kendra Johnson, executive director of Equality NC, said it was particularly heartening to see the ordinance pass in Western North Carolina at a time when transgender youth are being targeted by bills in North Carolina and across the nation.

“With this western county affirming the right to nondiscrimination for our most vulnerable community members, Buncombe has demonstrated that this truly is a statewide movement for our communities,” Johnson said. “We hope that elected officials across our state see the targets on our backs and hear these calls to action – we need these protections in every city, town, and county across North Carolina.”

The Public Religion Research Institute’s polling for its 2019 American Values Atlas found 67 percent of North Carolinians polled support protections against LGBTQ discrimination in the state.

 

Transgender treatment ban won’t see a vote in NC Senate

A controversial bill that would prohibit treatment for transgender people under 21 will not come to a vote, according to a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham).

Charlotte radio station WFAE first reported the story Tuesday.

“We do not see a pathway to Senate Bill 514 becoming law,” said Berger spokesman Pat Ryan, according to the station.

Gov. Roy Cooper would almost certainly have vetoed the bill, and Republicans no longer have the numbers in the General Assembly to overturn his veto without Democratic support. Given how extreme the bill is — going farther in targeting transgender youth than other, similar bills filed across the country so far this year — that support was unlikely.

The bill would also require state employees, including teachers and counselors, to inform parents in writing if they have knowledge of a minor who exhibits “gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor’s sex.”

Gender non-conformity can include anything from young men who paint their nails and young women who prefer to dress in clothes traditionally considered masculine to non-binary and gender-fluid people who do not identify strongly as male or female. The bill would require those children’s teachers and counselors to report them to their parents if they “exhibit symptoms” of gender non-conformity, even if they do not consider themselves transgender.

The bill also seeks to legally protect so-called  “conversion therapy,”  a scientifically discredited practice  that attempts to “cure” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The practice, which research has repeatedly found causes depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, has been banned in 20 states. In 2019 Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order forbidding taxpayer money to be used to pay for its use on minors in North Carolina. Polling shows overwhelming support for banning the practice in North Carolina, but multiple bills to do so have gone without a hearing or a vote.

Taken together, these provisions of the bill establish a legal mandate to identify and report children who may be transgender, prevent their parents and doctors from making medical decisions about their care and legally protect methods of “curing” them that have been established to be harmful.

Bills targeting transgender youth have proliferated across the country this legislative session, filed by Republicans who have been frank about transgender legislation providing a wedge issue that may help them in the midterm congressional elections. But it has also divided Republicans in some states. In Arkansas, where a bill similar to SB 514 was passed, the legislature had to override the veto of that state’s Republican governor, who called it “government overreach.”

Two other North Carolina bills targeting trans youth could still see a vote.

Senate Bill 515, would allow any medical provider  to refuse to perform any form of care or service “on the basis of conscience, whether such conscience is informed by religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs or principles.” That would including providing referrals to others who may provide the care or service. LGBTQ advocates call it a “license to discriminate” against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people among, among others, for religious reasons.

House Bill 358 would bar transgender women from competing against other women in sports at schools and universities in North Carolina.

That bill saw a public hearing last week with passionate voices from both sides, but has not actually come to vote in a House committee. Some Democrats have said they are undecided on the bill, however, or have so far remained silent on it. That’s given the bill’s Republican sponsors hope that it could still move forward.

I’m a pediatrician who cares for transgender kids – here’s what you need to know…

Mandy Coles is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University

…about social support, puberty blockers and other medical options that improve lives of transgender youth

When Charlie, a 10-year-old boy, came in for his first visit, he didn’t look at me or my colleague. Angry and crying, he insisted to us that he was cisgender – that he was a boy and had been born male.

A few months before Charlie came into our office, he handed a note to his mother with four simple words, “I am a boy.” Up until that point Charlie had been living in the world as female – the sex he was assigned at birth – though that was not how he felt inside. Charlie was suffering from severe gender dysphoria – a sense of distress someone feels when their gender identity doesn’t match up with their assigned gender.

I am a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist who has been caring for transgender youth for over a decade using what is called a gender-affirmative approach. In this type of care, medical and mental health providers work side by side to provide education to the patient and family, guide people to social support, address mental health issues and discuss medical interventions.

Getting on the same page

The first thing our team does is make sure our patients and families understand what gender care is. We always begin initial visits in the same way. “Our goal is to support you and your family on this journey, whatever that may look like for you. My name is Mandy and I am one of the doctors at CATCH – the Child and Adolescent Trans/Gender Center for Health program. I use she/her pronouns.” Sharing pronouns helps transgender people feel seen and validated.

We then ask patients and families to share their gender journey so we can better understand where they are coming from and where they hope to go. Charlie’s story is one we often hear. A kid may not think much about gender until puberty but begins to experience worsening gender dysphoria when their body starts changing in what feels like the wrong way.

Social transitions with family help

Transgender and gender-diverse youth (those whose gender identity doesn’t conform to the norms expected of their assigned sex) may face transphobia and discrimination, and experience alarmingly higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide than their cisgender peers. One option can be to socially transition to their identified gender, both at home and in the outside world.

An important first step is to help parents become allies and advocates. Connecting parents with one-to-one as well as group support can help facilitate education and acceptance, while helping families process their own experience. Charlie’s parents had been attending a local parent group that helped them better understand gender dysphoria.

In addition to being accepted at home, young people often want to live in the world in their identified gender. This could include changing their name and pronouns and coming out to friends and family. It can also include using public spaces like schools and bathrooms, participating on single-gender sports teams and dressing or doing other things like binding breasts or tucking back male genitalia to present more in line with their gender identity. Though more research needs to be done, studies show that youth who socially transition have rates of depression similar to cisgender peers.

Many young people find that making a social transition can be an important step in affirming identity. For those that still struggle with depression, anxiety and managing societal transphobia, seeing a therapist who has knowledge of and experience with gender-diverse identities and gender dysphoria can also be helpful.

However, most young people also need to make physical changes to their bodies as well to feel truly comfortable.

Gender-affirming medical interventions

When I first met Charlie, he had already socially transitioned but was still experiencing dysphoria. Charlie, like many people, wanted his physical body to match his gender identity, and this can be achieved only through medical interventions – namely, puberty blockers, hormonal medications or surgery.

For patients like Charlie who have started experiencing early female or male puberty, hormone blockers are typically the first option. These medications work like a pause button on the physical changes caused by puberty. They are well studied, safe and completely reversible. If a person stops taking hormone blockers, their body will resume going through puberty as it would have. Blockers give people time to further explore gender and to develop social supports. Studies demonstrate that hormone blockers reduce depression, anxiety and risk of suicide among transgender youth. Read more

Student, professional athletes push for NCAA to pull events over transgender athlete bans

Student and professional athletes joined LGBTQ advocates Friday to ask the National Collegiate Athletic Association to take action against states passing bills to exclude transgender women from women’s sports teams.

“This is a moment of national crisis where the rights and very existence of transgender young people are under attack,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a virtual press event. “This year’s state legislative sessions mark the highest number of anti-transgender bills in history — more than 50 — which target the ability of transgender athletes to participate in sports.”

In North Carolina last month, Republican lawmakers filed a bill to bar transgender women from competing against other women at schools and universities. Just this week, they filed bills that target transgender health care, seek to force teachers and counselors to report children who exhibit “gender nonconformity” and legally protect scientifically debunked “conversion therapy” that seeks to cure LGBTQ people.

As North Carolina saw five years ago, during the battle over HB2, the economic and cultural impact of sports organizations withdrawing competitions from states with discriminatory laws can make a difference. In response to that bill, the NCAA moved seven championship events scheduled to be held in the state as other major organizations and corporations boycotted the state. The final economic impact was estimated at nearly $4 billion.

Last month nearly 550 current NCAA athletes from across the nation signed a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA Board of Governors asking that they reaffirm the organization’s existing non-discrimination policies and pull championship events in states where transgender athletes are banned from competition. More than 700 NCAA athletes have now signed the letter.

Alana Boja, track and field athlete at Washington University.

“We noticed more and more states slated to host championships were putting anti-trans bills on the table but the NCAA was just staying silent,” said Alana Boja, a Washington University track and field athlete who helped spearhead the letter.

“We couldn’t just sit back and watch as the right to play sports was stripped from our fellow athletes,” Boja said.

The bills are a threat to all women athletes, Boja said.

“It’s impossible for women athletes to feel safe and supported in an environment where their personal identity and integrity is questioned,” Boja said. “The reality is many of these bills cannot possibly be enforced without inviting policing and bullying of all student athletes who do not meet stereotypes of gender and could empower any person to force any student athlete to undergo invasive physical exams or hormone tests in order to ‘prove their gender,’ whatever that means.”

Transgender women don’t threaten women’s and girl’s sports, Boja said.

“They’re my teammates, who want to play for the exact same reasons that I do,” Boja said. “To have fun, to improve ourselves, to make friends and be physically fit.”

Boja’s Washington University teammate, Aliya Schenck, said Republican legislators aren’t supporting or protecting women’s sports by discriminating against transgender women. If they want to do that, she said, they can concentrate on funding underfunded women’s sports programs all over the country.

The NCAA has had a policy allowing for the inclusion of transgender athletes since 2011. The organization should treat the current legislation like the threat to its policies and values that it is, Schenck said.

“Trans girls have been competing for a long time without incident,” Schenck said. “The NCAA needs to take action and withdraw all athletic competition from states considering anti-transgender sports bills.”
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