Challenge to law banning gender transition treatment for minors filed 

The North Carolina state seal at the General Assembly in Raleigh. North State Journal

RALEIGH — A lawsuit has been filed challenging the constitutionality of a recent state law that prohibits various forms of medical assistance for transgender minors. 

The primary plaintiff is a 9-year-old boy from Durham who claims to be transgender along with his parents. The 56-page complaint refers to the child as Victor Voe due to their age and to safeguard their identity. 

The legal action also includes a local physician, Riley Smith, and two LGBTQ rights advocacy organizations; the American Association of Physicians for Human Rights d/b/a “GLMA,” and Health Professionals advancing LGBTQ+ Equality.  

At least one of the plaintiffs is not located in North Carolina. GLMA is ” based in Washington, D.C. and incorporated in California.” 

A host of attorneys from out of state are representing the plaintiffs, including attorneys from the National Health Law Program in Washington, D.C., as well as Lambda Legal and Will, McDermott & Avery in New York City. HWG Law, a “boutique” D.C. firm with an office in Raleigh is also listed as one of the firms for the plaintiffs. 

“Victor” claims he “knew from a very young age that his gender identity did not match his sex assigned at birth, and he generally lives as the boy he is in every aspect of life.” 

The complaint does not name the General Assembly or any member of the legislature as a defendant. Instead, the complaint names N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley, and the members of the North Carolina Medical Board including the CEO of that board, Thomas Mansfield.  

The language of the complaint describes SL 2023-111 (House Bill 808) as a “health care ban” that “violates the rights of North Carolina adolescents and their parents under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Affordable Care Act” and “discriminates against transgender minors on the basis of sex and transgender statutes.” 

House Bill 808 was one of the bills Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed and was subsequently overridden.   

The law prohibits medical professionals from performing surgical gender transition procedures on minors and prescribing, providing, or dispensing puberty-blocking drugs or cross-sex hormones to minors, with some exceptions.  

Medical professionals violating the law can have their licenses revoked.  

Additionally, state funds can’t be used for surgical gender transition procedures on minors or for giving puberty-blocking drugs or cross-sex hormones to minors. 

North State Journal reached out for comment about the lawsuit from the bill’s primary sponsor Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke) but has not yet received a response. 

The complaint also alleges the law “prevents parents from exercising their fundamental right to obtain medically necessary care for their adolescent children” and “the Ban prohibits doctors from treating their patients in accordance with well-established standards of care, and it also subjects doctors to draconian penalties for doing so—including the loss of their medical license and civil liability.   

The N.C. Values Coalition has been a supporter of the law.  

“HB 808 provides children with the opportunity to grow up before making life-altering, permanent medical decisions which will medicalize them for life,” Fitzgerald added. “To date, on three occasions, thus far, the Circuit Courts in the 6th Circuit and the 11th Circuit have refused to find that similar laws are a violation of the 14th Amendment or the Affordable Care Act,” said the coalition’s executive director Tami Fitzgerald in a press release. 

“The plaintiffs ignore the growing body of evidence showing that these treatments are, in fact, experimental which is why numerous countries in Europe—Sweden, England, Finland, Norway, France—have either banned or severely restricted these treatments for minors,” Fitzgerald said. “The benefits do not outweigh the risks to bone development, brain development or higher rates of suicide as compared to non-transitioned individuals; what’s more, 80-90% of children who question their gender, if left alone, will resolve their confusion in favor of their sex by the time they are adults.”  

The lawsuit argues that doctors use “evidence-based, well-researched, and widely accepted clinical practice and medical guidelines.” However, some studies examining transitioning showed increases in suicidal ideation and actual attempts at suicide after a transition has begun. 

A report by the conservative Heritage Foundation found a “14% increase in suicide rates among young people by 2020 in states that have a provision allowing minors to access care without parental consent relative to states that do not.” The report also said easier access to puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones by minors “actually exacerbated suicide rates.” 

Over the past few years, individuals who have undergone a transition have begun publicly speaking out against the process and are often referred to as “destransitioners.”  

Lawsuits over “gender-affirming care” have also begun to crop up, such as one recently filed on Oct. 23 against the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) and several doctors by Isabelle M. Ayala (f.k.a. Giovanni Ayala). The lawsuit was first obtained and reported on by the Daily Wire. 

The 21-year-old Ayala began transitioning at age 14. She is suing the APA and the doctors for “civil conspiracy, fraud, medical malpractice, and other related causes of action in connection with their collective failure to treat her properly in the name of a so-called “gender-affirmative” model of care.” 

This past July, a 25-year-old North Carolina woman who was medically transitioned filed a civil lawsuit containing fraud and malpractice allegations against multiple doctors and individuals from Piedmont Plastic Surgery and Dermatology, Family Solutions PLLC, Tree of Life Counseling, and Cone Medical Services, Inc. 

Charlie Mosley, who goes by the name Prisha Mosley, filed the civil case in the Gaston County Superior Court, asserting that the defendants consistently provided her with misinformation by claiming that transitioning from female to male would resolve her mental health concerns. 

The lawsuit details Mosley’s significant mental health struggles as a teenager that included anorexia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and engaging in self-harm actions such as “cutting.” Mosley attributes most of her mental health issues to being the victim of a sexual assault at age 14. 

Mosley and the lawsuit have received support from N.C. Values Coalition. 

On Oct. 27, officials with the Biden administration filed a “statement of interest” in the federal lawsuit filed by a 9-year-old and his family over North Carolina’s law blocking gender surgeries and hormone blocking drugs for minors.  

“H.B. 808 prohibits the care and coverage of medically necessary care for transgender minors, while leaving non-transgender minors free to receive the same procedures and treatments and have them paid for with state funds,” the filing states. “H.B. 808 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their equal protection claim.” 

The filing by Biden administration officials claims the law “warrants heightened scrutiny” under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it “discriminates against transgender people, a Quasi-Suspect Class,” and discriminates on the basis of sex. 

“H.B. 808’s ban on the provision and coverage of gender-affirming care for transgender minors subjects them to a categorical ban based on their sex and their transgender status,” the filing says. “Accordingly, the law is subject to heightened scrutiny, which it fails because it is not substantially related to an important government interest. Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the statute is unconstitutional.”

About A.P. Dillon 1139 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_