These last few months have been brutal for our communities in North Carolina and nationwide. Extremists in our legislature launched a full fledged attack, introducing a raft of nasty, bigoted bills known as the Slate of Hate. These bills vary, but the common denominator is a hostility towards LGBTQ+ folks, especially transgender kids.

Many of these bills didn’t make the deadline for passage, but our opposition is using backdoor tactics to push their hateful agenda. At the time of writing, four bills were active, three of which have passed and been vetoed by the Governor. Still, the legislature could override the Governor’s veto any day now. Currently, anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the legislature fall into three categories: gender-affirming care bans for youth, trans sports bans, and “Don’t Say Gay” bills.

Two bills, HB 808 and SB 631, ban gender-affirming care for minors, making it nearly impossible for trans youth to access the life-saving medical care they need. This bill will endanger the lives of many trans youth, especially those not yet receiving gender-affirming care, who are barred from accessing it under the bill. This bill is cruel and discriminatory. HB 808 has been passed and vetoed by the Governor, and now awaits a potential override vote.

Another bill, HB 574, bans trans and intersex kids from participating in athletics, depriving them of the mental and physical benefits of sports. Research shows that participation in athletics can improve the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, while trans sports bans only increase existing risks to their mental health. Anti-trans athletic bans are discriminatory, unnecessary and do nothing to benefit women’s and girls’ sports. HB 574 has been passed and vetoed by the Governor, and is now awaiting a potential override vote in the legislature.

Finally, SB 49 is a “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This legislation would target educators, healthcare professionals, and LGBTQ+ youth and families for discrimination, forced outing and exclusion. SB 49 also has been passed and vetoed, and now awaits an override.

Several more bills filed earlier in the session targeting our communities included a drag ban,  others targeting gender affirming care and trans sports participation.  While these bills didn’t meet the deadline for passage, our opposition has routinely cut language from bills that did meet the crossover deadline and replaced them with horrific bills, like the abortion ban. The legislature also gutted one bill, SB 90, replacing its contents with a host of bizarre and dangerous provisions surrounding LGBTQ+ youth and education. Though that bill has currently been withdrawn from committee, we’re keeping a keen eye out for SB 90 and other similar pieces of legislation. 

This is an absolute crisis moment for our state’s queer and trans communities. Our people and our values are under threat from a legislature which has acted on reckless and bigoted ignorance to attack our communities. So if you haven’t already taken action, we urge you to contact your legislators and tell them to uphold Governor Cooper’s vetoes here.

Times like these are deeply frightening, but they also aren’t unprecedented; our LGBTQ+ communities have had a long history of state-sponsored discrimination – and of overcoming that discrimination. Our communities have a rich tradition of collective support and mutual aid in fighting against attacks on our people.

In that tradition,Equality NC has been partnering with the Campaign for Southern Equality on expanding the Southern Trans Youth Emergency Project (STYEP) to North Carolina. The attacks on gender-affirming care are part and parcel of broader efforts to restrict the healthcare of trans youth, and many of our neighboring states have passed similar bills to House Bill 808. STYEP helps out these families affected by this legislation, through direct grant support, patient navigation, supporting organizations serving these folks, and more. You can learn more about STYEP here and donate to support its incredible work here.

There’s no doubt about it – our communities are under fire. But what our opponents don’t understand is that we’re powerful, organized, and deeply motivated to fight for our rights – and we will win in the long run.

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