Today, Senate lawmakers passed eight bills that do little more than erode the rights of transgender North Dakotans while stoking fear and hatred amid discriminatory rhetoric.
The far-reaching bills, which include everything from prohibiting transgender people from obtaining birth certificates that accurately reflect their identity to allowing the government to intrude on private medical decisions, represent an unprecedented, coordinated effort to deny trans North Dakotans their freedom, safety and dignity.
“North Dakota lawmakers seem hellbent on joining the growing roster of states determined to jeopardize the health and lives of our transgender friends and neighbors,” said Cody Schuler, ACLU of North Dakota advocacy manager. “We send people to Bismarck to solve actual problems happening in our state, not to find ways to attack LGBTQ+ people. With serious issues like our state’s workforce shortage, affordable childcare, education funding and health care, it’s time North Dakota lawmakers spend more time focusing on the issues that strengthen our state for all residents.”
One of the most egregious bills Senate lawmakers passed today is House Bill 1254, legislation that will allow the government to intervene in private medical decisions, prohibiting doctors from providing life-saving gender-affirming health care to transgender North Dakotans. The bill represents vast government overreach that undermines the fundamental rights of parents who are making health care decisions for their children. Additionally, by singling out gender-affirming care for categorical prohibition, House Bill 1254 violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.
“House Bill 1254 is a devastating and dangerous violation of the rights and privacy of transgender North Dakotans, their families and their medical providers,” Schuler said. “Medical decisions belong to patients and their parents and their doctors – not the government. The only controversy in providing life-saving gender-affirming care for transgender youth in North Dakota is the one fabricated by legislators who want to see this harmful bill become law.”
Doctors and medical organizations have been providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth for decades, and it is supported by every major medical association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association. The risks of denying this health care to the young people who need it are grave and well founded, while passing this legislation has made North Dakota less safe and less welcoming for transgender youth, their families and all who love them.
In recent years, the ACLU has challenged bills across the country restricting access to gender-affirming health care, barring trans people from updating identity documents, and denying transgender students equal access to school facilities and activities, as well as defending inclusive policies from political and legal attacks. In addition, the ACLU has protected families from a statewide effort in Texas to remove transgender youth from their parent’s custody and successfully defended bans on books by or about LGBTQ people.
The ACLU of North Dakota is calling on Gov. Doug Burgum to veto House Bill 1254 as well as the other anti-trans bills passed today, including House Bill 1249, House Bill 1489, House Bill 1522, House Bill 1139, House Bill 1474, House Bill 1473 and House Bill 1297.
“This is not just one or two bad bills. This is a well-orchestrated slate of hate to push trans people out of public life,” Schuler said. “Discrimination against a marginalized group is a distraction from the state’s real needs and hurts us all.”
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.