Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 17 August 2023


A Transgender Victory for Parents in North Carolina

The Legislature overrides the Governor’s veto of three bills protecting minors and parental consent.

Aug. 17, 2023 6:45 pm ET

The North Carolina Capitol in Raleigh. PHOTO: GERRY BROOME/ASSOCIATED PRESS

North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of three bills affecting transgender children on Wednesday. This is a victory for parents, despite what you read elsewhere.

One bill bans North Carolina doctors from helping minors change their sex characteristics, including giving them puberty blockers and hormone therapy. Another bans biological males from competing on women’s and girls’ sports teams in middle school, high school and college. A third bans instruction on “gender identity, sexual activity, or sexuality” in kindergarten through fourth grade, and requires schools to let parents know if their child asked to be called by a different name or pronoun.

Although Republicans have a comfortable majority in the state Senate, in the House they achieved a veto-proof majority in April when Rep. Tricia Cotham switched parties. Republicans are hoping to repeat their success by passing tax cuts and expanding school choice over Gov. Cooper’s objection when they finish with the budget.

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Often lost amid the passions unleashed is that these bills involve minors, some as young as kindergarten. Gender identification is contentious, involving competing—and often irreconcilable—views of what is best for children, especially those who are unhappy with their sex or confused about their identity. In this case the real argument is about who gets to make those decisions. There are about 20 other states with similar restrictions for minors.

The consequences are serious, with sometimes irreversible consequences. Prisha Mosley testified that she was hospitalized as a teen for depression following a sexual assault, and started taking testosterone and had a double mastectomy to remove two healthy breasts as part of “gender affirming care.” She is now suing her doctors and therapists, one of whom told her parents: “Would you rather have a dead daughter or a live son?”

Medical and trans activists argue that by denying such care the Republicans are making suicide among transgender youth more likely. But Leor Sapir, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, notes that systematic reviews of evidence by European health authorities and by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health have found no reliable evidence that gender transition reduces the incidence of suicide or suicidal intent.

North Carolina hasn’t ended this debate. But it has determined—democratically—that there should be limits on such radical medical treatment for vulnerable minors. And that parents must not be left in the dark.

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