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Nine-year-old trans boy sues North Carolina over gender-affirming care ban

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The family of a nine-year-old transgender boy is suing the state of North Carolina to overturn its gender-affirming care ban, which they argue is unconstitutional and “gravely threatens the health and wellbeing of transgender adolescents” in the state.

The lawsuit alleges that the ban is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment since it only prohibits certain hormone therapies for transgender youth but allows them to be used for cisgender patients. It claims the ban also violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause by taking away parents’ ability to make medical decisions for their children based on recommendations from healthcare providers.

The suit also explains that the young boy is terrified of reaching puberty without access to gender-affirming care, which would cause him to experience the trauma of experiencing it in the wrong body.

In addition to the nine-year-old boy and his parents, plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Dr. Riley Smith, who provided gender-affirming care before the ban took effect, as well as the LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations PFLAG and GLMA.

North Carolina’s gender-affirming care ban went into effect on August 16, after the state’s Republican majorities in the House and Senate overrode the Democratic governor’s veto.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed the bill along with two other anti-trans bills – one anti-trans sports bill and one bill seeking to out trans students to their parents as well as prohibiting discussions of LGBTQ+ issues in kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms.

Cooper called the bills “a triple threat of political culture wars” and accused North Carolina Republicans of “scheming for the next election” at the expense of vulnerable children.

“A doctor’s office is no place for politicians,” said Cooper, echoing a popular line of defense among Democrats defending trans minors. “North Carolina should continue to let parents and medical professionals make decisions about the best way to offer gender care for their children.”

But legislators overrode all three vetoes, and the bills immediately went into effect.

“We need to call this what it is: An all-out attack on queer and transgender youth in North Carolina,” Allison Scott, director of Impact & Innovation at the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement at the time. “The NCGA is going out of its way to blatantly enact the far-Right’s anti-LGBTQ wish list, causing harm and discrimination to young people in every area of life, from school to the doctor’s office to the athletic fields.”

Scott went on to note that North Carolina Republicans don’t seem to have learned anything from the state’s ill-fated H.B. 2. The 2016 law, which banned transgender people from using public restrooms that aligned with their gender identity, led to a huge backlash, from canceled concerts to loss of the NBA All-Stars game. The law was repealed in late 2020.

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