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.

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