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Transgender health care restrictions tweaked as bill nears passage in North Carolina

Prisha Mosley, who says she suffered harm from gender transition surgery and later transitioned back to her gender at birth, spoke to an N.C. House committee on Tuesday.
N.C. General Assembly
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Prisha Mosley, who says she suffered harm from gender transition surgery and later transitioned back to her gender at birth, spoke to an N.C. House committee on Tuesday.

Republicans in the state House have changed proposed restrictions on gender-affirming care for kids and teens.

GOP lawmakers initially wanted to ban both gender transition surgery and hormone treatments in people under age 18. A new version of the bill would only ban such treatments in healthcare facilities operated or funded by the state, such as UNC Health, local health departments, or hospitals owned by local governments.

Rep. Tim Reeder, R-Pitt and a doctor, is one of the bill’s sponsors.

"State agencies should offer robust mental health and psychological support for these children, not advocate for surgery," Reeder said, calling the surgeries "unproven remedies" that "can lead to permanent harm."

But while the bill would still allow gender-affirming treatment in private facilities, Rep. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford, says it could put the procedure out of reach for many.

The WUNC Politics Podcast is a free-flowing discussion of what we're hearing in the back hallways of the General Assembly and on the campaign trail across North Carolina.

"It seems like if we’re outlawing it with state funds, then you’re outlawing it, and I think that’s the issue here," Brockman said. "Why are we outlawing it in the first place if a parent wants to make this decision?"

Reeder cited state law that prevents people under age 18 from getting a tattoo, even if they have a parent's permission.

"You can’t get a tattoo under 18," Reeder said. "So why would we allow this?

Citing time constraints, the House Health Committee only allowed two speakers on the bill before Tuesday's vote. One was a 15-year-old transgender boy who cited the high suicide rate among transgender teens and said that gender-affirming hormone treatments saved his life.

The other, Prisha Mosley, says she received male hormone treatments and surgery as a teen and has since transitioned back to female. She spoke in support of the bill. Mosley says an array of mental health problems as a teen caused doctors to incorrectly diagnose her with gender dysphoria.

"I have suffered severe and lasting injuries," Mosley said. "My body did not develop the way it should have and does not function normally."

A similar bill is scheduled for a Senate hearing on Wednesday. And another bill to limit the participation of transgender girls and women on sports teams is nearing final passage at the legislature this week.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the latest version of the House bill would allow hormone therapy and hormone blockers in state-funded and state-operated facilities. The new version only allows those treatments in private facilities.

Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.
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