In a bipartisan vote, the North Carolina House approved a measure on Wednesday that bans gender transitioning surgeries for minors.
House Bill 808, Surgical Gender Trans./Minors, passed the chamber in a 74-44 vote, with all Republicans in support and two Democrats — Reps. Garland Pierce of Scotland County and Michael Wray of Northampton County. The margin is veto-proof.
The bill prohibits health care workers from providing “surgical gender transition procedures to any individual under 18 years of age.” The measure contains a number of exceptions, including for minors “with external biological sex characteristics that are unresolvedly ambiguous.”
A previous version of the bill was more expansive, outlawing the administration of puberty blocking drugs or hormonal drugs and imposing stiffer penalties for medical professionals who violate the law.
“These [surgeries] are experimental,” said Rep. Ken Fontenot, R-Wilson, a lead sponsor on the bill. “If someone becomes 18 and they want these things, they should be able to have them. They are old enough to understand the consequences. Their body has come to maturity, and mentally they can make that clear decision.”
“If you are under the age of 18 in North Carolina, you cannot get a tattoo at all, even with your parents’ consent,” added Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke. “You can’t get a body piercing, other than for earrings, without parent consent. But we allow these surgical procedures that, in many instances, maybe are irreversible and life-changing for children who have not arrived at 18 years of age.”
Democrats claimed the bill was anti-transgender and argued that “gender-affirming care” is needed for minors.
“Despite what this bill says, it’s really just about bigotry and a national trend, frankly, to stigmatize the transgender community,” said Rep. Vernetta Alston, D-Durham.
“North Carolina children deserve a natural childhood with all the typical changes and discoveries, shaping who they will become as individuals without medical professionals manipulating the gender confused to line their pockets, permanently altering the bodies of healthy children,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition, in a statement.
H.B. 808 now heads to the Senate.