Source: Editorial Board
State Republicans want to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes of three anti-trans youth bills passed by Republicans in the legislature, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
Last week while legislators were off for the Fourth of July holiday, Cooper vetoed three anti-LGBTQ+ culture war bills – House Bill 574 (Fairness in Women’s Sports Act), House Bill 808 (Gender Transition/Minors) and Senate Bill 49 (Parents’ Bill of Rights).
Republicans are hoping to schedule votes on HB 574 and HB 808 in the near future. Senate Bill 49 was sent to the Rules and Operations committee while Republican leaders work on a date to hold a veto override vote, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Because of their supermajority in both chambers, Republicans have overridden eight of Cooper’s vetoes so far this session. North Carolinians opposed to these bills have Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) to “thank” for their passage and the subsequent override votes.
In 2022, Cotham ran in her heavily-blue district on a platform of protecting abortion rights, gun reform, health care as a right and supporting LGBTQ+ rights.
During her campaign, Cotham said:
“I have been a champion of LGBTQ+ rights throughout my public service … Right now, LGBTQ+ youth are under attack by Republican state legislatures across the country. I will stand strong against discriminatory legislation and work to pass more protections at the state level.”
In April, just a few months into the new legislative session, those supposedly long-held beliefs went out the window when she switched to the Republican Party because, according to her, Democrats weren’t nice enough to her.
Cotham was elected with 59% of the vote in state House District 112 and she represents an area that voted for President Biden by a more than 2-to-1 margin over Donald Trump in 2020. Her constituents would never have elected her had she run as a Republican (as she’ll find out in 2024 if she runs for re-election).
On the night before Cotham’s announcement, once word had gotten out about what she would be doing the next day, Cooper released a statement calling her decision “disappointing.”
“Rep. Cotham’s votes on women’s reproductive freedom, election laws, LGBTQ rights and strong public schools will determine the direction of the state we love. It’s hard to believe she would abandon these long-held principles.”
Following her announcement that she was switching parties, state and national Democrats, advocates and her constituents called on her to resign.
While it may have been hard to believe at the time that Cotham would abandon her “long-held principles,” she went on to do just what Democrats and progressive advocates feared she would – vote with Republicans on issues like abortion, public education, voting rights and LGBTQ+ rights.
While announcing his vetoes last week, Cooper released a statement accusing Republicans of attacking the LGBTQ+ community for electoral reasons.
“For campaign purposes only, Republicans are serving up a triple threat of political culture wars using government to invade the rights and responsibilities of parents and doctors, hurting vulnerable children and damaging our state’s reputation and economy like they did with the harmful bathroom bill,” Cooper said.
House Bill 574 prevents transgender female athletes from participating in female sports at the middle and high school levels and at colleges and universities.
If HB 574 becomes law, it would go into effect for the upcoming school year. The bill states that “a student’s sex shall be recognized based solely on the student’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
As for House Bill 808, it would place new restrictions on gender-affirming care for youths.
Senate bill sponsors said that children already receiving gender-affirming medical treatment, such as surgical procedures, puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones would be allowed to complete their process as long as a medical professional “deemed the continuation or completion to be medically necessary and the parents and guardians consented,” according to the Winston-Salem Journal. State funds would remain available for them.
The bill would prevent minors from starting the treatment process as of Aug. 1. The bill also includes stiff penalties for medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care.
Questions that many people have – Why so many anti-trans bills? Why now? – is the focus of a recent News & Observer article. Sadly, this is a nationwide attack on the LGBTQ+ community. North Carolina is not unique in its cruelty. According to Trans Legislation Tracker, 560 anti-trans bills were introduced in 49 states this year – that’s an average of 11 anti-trans bills per state. In 2022, that number was approximately 174.
Katherine Franke, director of the Columbia University Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, told The News & Observer that there are many factors that have pushed the country into the current climate we’re seeing where state legislatures are pushing this hateful legislation.
One of the most important factors, she said, is the increasing visibility of transgender people. According to Franke, as transgender people became more accepted into the growing LGBTQ+ movement they became more visible and politically active, which resulted in more bigotry and violence aimed at the community.
That “vitriol toward trans and gender non-conforming people” seemed to grow rapidly following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that federally legalized same-sex marriage, Franke said. Once same-sex marriage became legalized and widely accepted, Republicans needed a new group to attack.
“When the appeals to same-sex marriage started to run out, around 2015-2016, that no longer was mobilizing a base,” Franke said. “The turn to bathroom bills and things like that, we started to see a lot more of in state legislatures.”
What Republicans in North Carolina and across the nation are doing with these anti-transgender rights bills is the same thing they always do – talk about their vision of an America without government overreach and a government that stays out of your business, all the while they’re politically inserting themselves into every facet of your life.
Cooper expressed the same sentiment when explaining last week’s veto.
“A doctor’s office is no place for politicians,” he said. “And North Carolina should continue to let parents and medical professionals make decisions about the best way to offer gender care for their children.”
State House Rep. John Autry (D-Charlotte) spoke with Cardinal & Pine about having a trans granddaughter and why he believes that HB 808 “could not be a more colossal example of government overreach.”
Autry explained that his granddaughter was very fortunate to have access to the gender-affirming care she needed, as well as support from her parents. He said that despite how Republicans claim that these gender-affirming care decisions are made in a snap, the decisions that were made “didn’t happen overnight” and it took more than a year to come to them.
“If she had not had access to that kind of care … that high-quality care, and the understanding of her parents, it could have been tragic,” Autry said.
He went on to explain how HB 808 is a prime example of the type of government overreach Republicans are known for.
“The legislature, the leadership in the General Assembly, wants to insert the state in a private medical health care, mental health decision that is made by parents and the child, the patient,” he said. “They want to insert themselves between that process, and insert themselves between the health care provider and the family.”
If just one Republican votes against overriding these vetoes, they will help protect and save the lives of transgender kids in North Carolina. Maybe Tricia Cotham will remember her campaign promises and follow through on them by voting to sustain the governor’s veto.