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Can NC Expect A Legal Challenge To Gender-Affirming Care Ban?

Source: News & Observer

As of August 16, when the state House and Senate overrode the veto of Governor Roy Cooper, North Carolina became the 22nd state in the United States to ban gender affirming care for minors, according to the News & Observer

Activists, doctors, and parents have heavily criticized the new law, both for its targeted cruelty as well as its disregard for medical standards. The law bars medical professionals from providing gender affirming care, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy, to anyone under the age of 18. Despite the fact that studies have shown gender affirming care to be necessary and lifesaving, transgender kids in North Carolina will no longer be able to access it.

Now that the bill has become law, it will likely be challenged in court.

Similar laws passed in other states have already faced legal challenges. In Georgia, a federal judge temporarily blocked parts of their gender-affirming care ban on the grounds that it’s “likely” unconstitutional and would likely “put some individuals at risk of the serious harms associated with gender dysphoria that gender-affirming care seeks to prevent.”

In Indiana, Florida and Arkansas, the same has happened. A judge in Arkansas this June said the law violated the equal protection clause of the US Constitution by specifically prohibiting “medical care that only transgender people choose to undergo.” The judge overseeing the Florida case said the effort to restrict access to gender affirming care is “an exercise in politics, not good medicine.”

For Alabama and Tennessee, the US Department of Justice stepped in to challenge their gender affirming care bans. While those laws were initially blocked, they were eventually allowed to go into effect after an appeals court ruling. 

Opponents of the bans have argued that restricting access to gender-affirming care discriminates against transgender people and violates the rights of parents to make medical decisions for their own children. Some judges have questioned if there is a legitimate government interest in restricting gender-affirming care.  

Several Democrats in the state House and Senate cited these cases from other states while the bill was in committee and during floor debate to no avail. Considering the NCGOP has spent more than $10.5 million between 2011 and 2016 defending their controversial laws in court – including more than $1 million defending the “bathroom bill” HB2 alone – it’s not surprising that they seemed unbothered by the potential cost to taxpayers litigation over this law may bring. But whether or not it will be challenged remains to be seen. 

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