Media Contact

Janna Farley,

January 24, 2023

The ACLU of North Dakota opposes House Bill 1254 and House Bill 1301, legislation that would prohibit doctors from providing live-saving gender-affirming care to transgender North Dakotans.

Though the bills have a few distinct differences – House Bill 1301 adds the ability for a person to sue a parent or a doctor for providing gender-affirming care for 30 years – the problem with both is simple: The bills would take away private health care choices around the provision of medical care consistent with prevailing medical and scientific standards. Such choices should be made between a doctor and a patient, not politicians.

“Medical decisions belong to trans youth, their parents and their doctor – not the government,” said Cody Schuler, ACLU of North Dakota advocacy manager. “These bills fly in the face of common decency, basic human right and the advice of every major medical association – not to mention federal law. What could possibly be more cruel than trying to take away a child’s access to the care that could save their life? Rather than making medical care more affordable and accessible to people who need it, some North Dakota legislators are trying to add another barrier, one that will be hardest on some of the most vulnerable people in our state. The result of legislation like this won’t be that fewer kids grow up to be trans, it will be that fewer kids grow up.”

Like all health care, health care for transgender youth is individualized and based on the needs of each particular person. Doctors and medical organizations have been providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth for decades. However, it has increasingly become a target of attacks from state lawmakers across the country. Federal courts have blocked the enforcement of legislative bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Arkansas and Alabama.

The link between gender-affirming care and improved mental well-being among teens is well documented. A peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that gender-affirming care is associated with significantly reduced rates of depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among transgender and nonbinary youth.

Harmful Conversion Therapy Bill Also Must be Stopped

The ACLU of North Dakota also opposes House Bill 1332, legislation that would deem conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people “not an ethical violation” for social workers in the state.

Conversion therapy is widely discredited as a counterproductive and cruel practice that subjects people to immense physical, emotional and psychological harm. Organizations like the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have condemned the practice as traumatizing and ineffective.

“Conversion therapy has no place anywhere in our state. The politicians working to allow conversion therapy are only endangering the lives of LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit youth,” Schuler said. “That some of our legislators want to reverse North Dakota’s stance on conversation therapy underscores, yet again, just how willing some of our elected officials are to put LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit youth in harm's way for political gain.”

About the ACLU of North Dakota

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of North Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes South Dakota and Wyoming. The team in North Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women and LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of North Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of North Dakota.