Source: News & Observer
Over the past four years, transgender employees of the state of North Carolina have been fighting North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell in court to gain access to gender-affirming health care, according to the News & Observer.
In 2019, multiple plaintiffs sued the state for failing to cover gender-affirming care, specifically hormone replacement therapy and reconstructive surgery; the state had previously provided this care in 2017. In January of this year, a three-judge US Court of Appeals panel heard arguments from the state’s legal team, which argued that North Carolina’s employee healthcare policy does not discriminate against trans employees.
Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory asked the state’s legal team, “why pick on transgender dysphoria?” and pointed out that the exclusions singled out transgender folks who are a protected class. John Knepper, the state’s attorney, claimed that “the plan is picking on everybody”.
Gender-affirming care is life-saving and all state employees deserve proper health care and to be accepted in their workplace.
News & Observer opinion writer Sara Pequeño wrote:
“It’s not really clear why Folwell’s office insists on arguing this case. It’s possible that this is a political calculation as he considers a run for governor. Might he be using fear and hatred of a marginalized group of people to gain political points with voters ahead of 2024?
What is clear, however, is that trans people are increasingly under attack from institutions that should protect everyone, but often fail to. The more politicians use policy to show that trans people shouldn’t be allowed to exist the way they want to, the more trans people are threatened by people who would rather they not exist at all.”
The American Civil Liberties Union reported that over 120 bills restricting LGBTQ+ rights were proposed nationwide by mid-January of this year. As Pequeño wisely points out, it’s no coincidence that Folwell has continued his pursuit as he mulls a run for governor in 2024.