On Feb. 6, House Bill 43 was introduced to the N.C. General Assembly, proposing the prohibition of sterilization surgeries, puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors.
The primary sponsors of the bill are N.C. Reps. George Cleveland (R-Onslow), Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico), Bill Ward (R-Camden, Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank) and Steve Tyson (R-Craven). The other 13 co-sponsors of the bill are also Republican.
Cleveland, Kidwell, Ward and Tyson did not respond to The Daily Tar Heel's requests for comment before the time of publication.
If passed, H.B. 43 will make it unlawful for a minor to receive hormone treatments that are not consistent with the minor’s sex assigned at birth.
Minors would not be permitted to take medication that causes temporary or permanent infertility, and they will be prohibited from receiving any surgery to remove a "non-diseased body part or tissue."
Minors born with a medically-verifiable genetic disorder of sexual development are exempt.
Any medical professional who violates the restrictions will have their medical license revoked and face up to $1,000 in civil fines.
“The consensus was that juveniles, those under the age of 18, should not have gender-affirming surgeries or hormone treatments that should be reserved for those that are adults to make that decision. And that’s really the basis of the bill,” Ward told the News & Observer, speaking for the sponsors of the bill.
According to an article found in the National Library of Medicine, medical intervention is not recommended for transgender youth prior to puberty. At the beginning of puberty, the development of secondary sex organs can be delayed using puberty blockers, allowing a child time to further explore their gender identity.
With the use of gender-affirming hormones, transgender children experience puberty that aligns with their gender identity.
Children that are denied gender-affirming hormones during adolescence show higher levels of psychological distress and suicidal thoughts than children who receive the desired treatments, according to a 2022 study.
“We have kids that are in a real crisis," N.C. Sen. Graig Meyer (D-Caswell, Orange, Person) said. "This bill seems to want to put more kids in the crisis and we shouldn’t even be wasting our time on this.”
UNC sophomore Connor Downing said bills like H.B. 43 are put into place to silence LGBTQ+ voices and identities, which are considered by some a phase that a child will outgrow.
“People in power and in positions above these kids don’t take into consideration how they really feel, and that being trans is something that you can know from a very young age and recognize,” he said.
Ivy Atkins-Pearcy transitioned when she was 19 years old and said she has known she was transgender her entire life.
Atkins-Pearcy said if H.B. 43 is passed, it will make an already difficult process even harder.
“Transitioning is not something someone does lightly," she said. "It's not a trend. It's not a fad. It’s drastically altering who you are and it takes a monumental amount of courage and self-reflection to get to that point.”
Atkins-Pearcy said, once someone is confident and has support, it would be disappointing if they had to wait to transition.
“Having to wait until they’re 18 would be incredibly damaging because they’re just going through a puberty which they don’t identify with,” she said.
Meyer said that instead of drafting bills like H.B. 43, the government should focus on addressing the shortage of mental health treatment facilities.
He also said youth who are in need of professional mental health support should have access as part of their full educational opportunity.
“It saddens me that we have elected leaders in North Carolina who choose to use the power that they have to make people feel marginalized and hurt by the state that they live in,” Meyer said.
On campus, students and University employees have access to the UNC LGBTQ Center. The Center offers identity-affirming and educational programing, as well as community activities. It is open Monday - Friday and can be contacted via phone at (919) 843-5376 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
QTPOC is a program for students who identify as queer and/or transgender people of color. QTPOC offers mutual aid, peer support and social activities. Contact the program at email@example.com or via Facebook.
The Trevor Project is a national program dedicated to the safety and mental health of LGBTQ young people. Crisis counselors are available 24/7 via phone at (866) 488 7386, as well as on text and chat.
@DTHCityState | firstname.lastname@example.org
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