Human Rights Campaign Condemns North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum for Endangering Transgender Youth in North Dakota, Signing Gender Affirming Care Ban into Law

by Cullen Peele

North Dakota is on track to pass more anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2023 than any other state

Bismarck, ND - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, rebuked North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum for Wednesday’s signing of HB 1254, making North Dakota the fourteenth state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth via statute. Under this new law, doctors will be subject to criminal penalties if they are found to be providing what is age appropriate, medically necessary, life-saving care supported by every major medical association. Governor Burgum signed two anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law last week as well, both of which prohibit transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. Several additional anti-LGBTQ+ bills are still advancing through the legislative process, and North Dakota is on track to pass more anti-LGBTQ legislation this year than any other state.

Gender-affirming care is age-appropriate care that is medically necessary for the well-being of many transgender and non-binary people who experience symptoms of gender dysphoria, or distress that results from having one’s gender identity not match their sex assigned at birth. Gender-affirming care is the integration of medical, mental health and social services. For transgender children, transition is an entirely social process which may include a new name or pronouns, wearing different clothes or styling one’s hair differently. At puberty, doctors may一in consultation with and having the informed consent of the transgender youth and their parents一prescribe reversible medication known as puberty-blockers, which allow a young person to safely reach an age in which they’re truly able to consent to further treatment.

In signing this bill, Governor Burgum has sided with extremist lawmakers who are interfering with the rights of parents and acting as if they know more about how to support transgender children than medical experts and parents do. North Dakota lawmakers have shown nothing but hostility for transgender folks this legislative session, but denying children the ability to get the care they need to be and stay healthy is simply cruel. The Governor’s decision to support this discriminatory legislation will have a devastating impact on families and children in this state.”

Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

Get the facts about gender-affirming care:

  • Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.
    • “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.

    • Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.

  • Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity.
    • Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor.

    • Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child.

    • In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:
      • New name

      • New hairstyle

      • New clothing

      • None of this care is irreversible.

  • Being transgender is not new.
    • Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years.

    • But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass.

    • And very few transgender people change their mind.

  • ALL gender-affirming care is:
    • Age-appropriate

    • Medically necessary

    • Supported by all major medical organizations

    • Made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents

  • And in many cases, this care is lifesaving!
    • A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

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