“The fact that we have this barrage of bills all of a sudden is really, I think, a testament of legislators being reactive to the fact that we have family members who are transgender, and that we love and we care a lot about. And so it’s unfortunate that when we ask the question, ‘have you visited with a transgender individual about how these bills impact them? Or even their health care provider?’ the answer commonly is no, because they aren’t interested in hearing the facts that come along with this conversation,” stated Representative Joshua Boschee, (D) District 44, Fargo, House of Representatives – Minority Leader.
Some of the bills Representative Josh Boschee is referring to include House Bill 1249, which bans transgender individuals in sports at the high school level, which passed in the House. House Bill 1301 prohibits medical gender transitioning procedures on a minor, this failed in the House.
Senate Bill 2231 would prevent a school policy on acknowledging preferred pronoun discriminatory practices and school policies on expressed gender – this passed in the Senate.
There are also several other bills pertaining to transgender individuals.
Cathryn Oakley is the Director and Senior Counsel of the Human Rights Campaign.
She believes too many state legislators cater to primary voters in their only competitive race and don’t listen to the vast majority of what the general population wants and needs.
“That’s why we’re seeing these really horrible bills, which are cruel, and cowardly and unnecessary,” said Oakley, “and also not popular.”
KX News reached out to several sponsors and co-sponsors of these anti-transgender bills to ask about where this legislation originated from, whether it be local constituents or if these bills were influenced more by the agenda of coalitions such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, Heritage Foundation or the Family Policy Alliance. They either chose not to respond, or they were not available for an interview.
“These are bills that are being put forth by these national organizations who have their anti equality agenda,” Oakley explained. “These are not bubbling up because of real issues that are happening, it is very much top down with legislators who are controlled by or impacted by these very, very powerful organizations.”
However, parents of transgender individuals reached out to KX with a number of concerns when it comes to legislators interfering with medical decisions.
Oakley says the vast majority of medical professionals agree that it’s crucial for transgender kids to have treatment options, but these coalitions are using medical professionals who are willing to go against what the vast majority of medical professionals believe and then presenting it to legislators.
“There’s a very small group of people who are willing to put their reputations on the line for this,” Oakley stated. “And that’s because they’re driven by ideology, and not by science, and certainly not by best interests of these children who are who are truly being irreversibly harmed by these laws.”
Some constituents are also concerned sponsors of anti-transgender legislation are cherry picking the science upon which they base some bills.
Local OBGYN Physician Dr. Rachel Peterson says that the science goes beyond just one factor, such as DNA.
“I think it’s so much more complicated than just like, you’re xx or you’re x, y, you can be x x, y, you can be just 1x,” Peterson explained. “So I think that’s so complicated that you’re narrowing it down to something more simple than it really is.”
If these bills pass into law, legislators such as Representative Boschee are concerned about what that could mean for the future of North Dakota.
“I think the reality is,” Representative Boschee said, “if we continue to say no to certain people, the rest of the nation is gonna say ‘why would I move to North Dakota if they’re picking on that group of people today? What makes me not the target next time?'”