Major Victories For Transgender Community In North Carolina

Source: NC Policy Watch

During a month marked by attacks on the transgender community in multiple states across the country, North Carolina is among the few states that can tout some victories. 

Earlier this June, Winston-Salem federal judge Loretta Biggs ruled that North Carolina’s state employee health plan unlawfully discriminated against transgender people by refusing to pay for gender-affirming health care.

NC Policy Watch reported that one of the plaintiffs in this case, an assistant professor in the College of Education at NCSU Julie McKeown, said that this victory sent “a powerful message of validation to the entire transgender community in North Carolina.”

McKeown continued, saying, “After years of fighting for fair treatment, finally having a court decide that these healthcare exclusions are wrong is vindicating… as government employees, all we want is equal access to healthcare, but we were denied just because we are transgender.”

The latest victory for the North Carolina transgender community came on June 22; NC Policy Watch reported that “transgender people born in North Carolina can now change the gender marker on their birth certificates without undergoing medical transition,” according to a consent judgment in a federal lawsuit issued June 22.

The lawsuit was filed last year by Lambda Legal, Baker Botts LLP and Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard and challenged the state’s restrictions on how transgender North Carolinians can change thier gender markers. 

As many transgender folks choose not to have surgery or medically transition, North Carolina’s previous requirements to do so in order to change gender markers were an obstacle for many people. 

Thanks to this recent judgment, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, along with other state officials and agencies, will have to provide birth certificates that reflect an applicant’s sex that is consistent with thier gender identity without having to undergo any surgery. 

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, counsel at Lambda Legal, said in a statement, “This is a victory for all transgender people born in North Carolina that will help enable them to navigate life with safety and dignity… We are gratified by North Carolina state officials’ agreement to reverse North Carolina’s policy prohibiting so many transgender people born in North Carolina from having accurate birth certificates. This lawsuit was just the latest step in our nationwide battle to break down barriers for transgender people to access accurate identity documents.”

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