Disturbingly, this measure also targets mental health. For example, the bill gives permission for parents or guardians to withhold consent for not only physical treatment or “activities” but for mental health services if it has to do with the minor’s “conceptions” of sex and gender or “treating gender nonconformity or dysphoria.” As we know, gender-affirming care—including mental health care—is life-saving care. It is hard enough to access trans-inclusive medical care in this nation as it is. Healthcare should be safe, affordable, and accessible, not shut down by parents.
As is the case with many of these anti-trans bills, the measure defines sex as based on chromosomes, endogenous hormone profiles, and sex organs. Notably, this bill would also forbid any state office or organization from barring or punishing individuals who provide therapy based on their religious beliefs or “conscious.” What immediately comes to mind? Conversion therapy.
Another aspect of this legislation that’s important to discuss is the term “gender nonconforming” itself. What does that mean? It really depends on who you ask. Some trans folks might consider themselves to be gender non-conforming. Some cisgender queer people, like, for example, gay men and lesbians, might also classify themselves as that way. That said, this legislation doesn’t care about how you self-identify. Would a cisgender woman who dresses in men’s clothes for whatever reason end up being reported upon to her parents? What about a cisgender, heterosexual man who wears nail polish or makeup? The list of scenarios goes on.
And when we consider implicit bias and who is generally targeted in say, a school setting, this area becomes even murkier and concerning—say, for example, a high schooler of color wears the same outfit as a white peer. Would they both be seen as equally gender “conforming” or not? Would they both be reported upon immediately? The whole thing is a tunnel of disaster, stereotypes, and profiling.
If enacted, the bill would go into effect on October 1, 2021. Mind you, while there are Republican strongholds in both houses in North Carolina, this bill likely has too much overreach to actually move forward. But even if these bills don’t become law, the sheer speed and intensity of these anti-trans legislations set a tone of concerning normality for such hate and division. And for the LGBTQ young people who hear and see this coverage, also truly terrifying.