Lou Jent, a non-binary parent of a non-binary child, said there is a body of research that shows children develop their gender identity very early on.
Most children develop a stable sense of their gender identity around age four and most can label themselves as a boy or a girl around age three, Jent said.
They also said families have been sent into a mad scramble to find gender therapists and doctors that provide gender-affirming care before these children are locked out of care.
H.B. 808 includes provisions that allow minors who were receiving gender-affirming healthcare as of Aug. 1 of this year to continue their course of treatment.
“If you're locked out of having gender care, or you come out after this deadline, then that is excessively harmful,” Jent said. “That means you are locked into presenting, sometimes, in a body that does not align with your gender identity.”
According to the 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People conducted by the Trevor Project, 41 percent of LGBTQ+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Half of these individuals identified as transgender or non-binary.
A study conducted by the Stanford School of Medicine also found that starting gender-affirming hormone treatment in adolescence is linked to better mental health outcomes for transgender and non-binary youth compared to those who wait until adulthood.
Along with H.B. 808, House Bill 574, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act — which was recently passed by the General Assembly in a veto override, will restrict middle and high school students from participating in athletic teams designated for girls if that individual was born a biological male.
As an older member of the LGBTQ+ community who has witnessed similar legislation over the years be appealed, Jent said the harm that has been done before this is massive.
“I get tired, the pendulum — in out, in out — of these rights being stripped away from us and then given back and stripped away and given back,” Jent said. “Why are trans bodies the playground for that, and now trans children?”
Cage Bullard, a trans student at UNC, said the legislation was scary to come face-to-face with, as a lifelong North Carolina resident.
They said when legislators close off options for transgender individuals, it forces those individuals to feel shame and makes them scared for their own safety in the future. Bullard said the legislation is shrouded under the guise of parent communication, which they feel there was never a lack of.
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“Although I thoroughly believe that we'll get through this, I believe it will take work,” Bullard said. “It'll take effort from us and us continuing to be visible throughout this whole fear.”
They said it is important for people to talk with a trans friend or somebody affected by these recent pieces of legislation to understand exactly how they are feeling.
Jent said voting is never enough when it comes to these issues. They said people must take political action such as protesting and calling or emailing legislators.
“People need to understand that this is a war being waged on their bodies because of a political power issue, and when we in the LGBTQ community see the larger community not taking a stand, it sends us a message, and that's largely what we've seen,” Jent said. “It sends us a message that these children, and our lives and their lives are expendable.”
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