RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Transgender rights take center stage in North Carolina again Wednesday as GOP supermajorities in the General Assembly attempt to override the governor’s vetoes of legislation banning gender-affirming health care for minors and limiting transgender participation in school sports.
The state House will hold the first of two votes Wednesday afternoon in a bid to enact the bills over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s opposition. If House Republicans quickly muster the votes needed, the Senate might aim to complete the override with a decisive final vote Wednesday evening, the Senate leader’s office said.
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. Initial votes indicate Cooper’s vetoes of both bills are likely to be overridden.
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 — though many of those laws are facing court challenges.
The North Carolina bill would bar medical professionals from providing hormone therapy, puberty-blocking drugs and surgical gender-transition procedures to anyone under 18, with limited medical exceptions. If the bill is overridden, the legislation would take effect immediately, though minors who had started treatment before Aug. 1 could continue receiving that care if their doctors deem it medically necessary and their parents consent.
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.
Another bill scheduled for its first override vote Wednesday in the House would prohibit transgender girls from playing on girls’ middle school, high school and college sports teams.
Bill supporters argue that legislation is needed to protect the safety and well-being of young female athletes and to preserve scholarship opportunities for them. But opponents say it’s discrimination disguised as a safety precaution and would unfairly pick on a small number of students.
Local LGBTQ+ rights advocates are already bracing in expectation of both bills becoming law and have vowed to challenge the gender-affirming care ban in court.
Hannah Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.