North Carolina apparently forgot “Bathroom Bill’ fallout, as new anti-trans bill would force sports world’s hand again

North Carolina State House
North Carolina State House
Image: Getty Images

A good rule of thumb in life is to always avoid making the same mistake twice.

Republican legislators in the state of North Carolina obviously didn’t get that memo, after proposing an anti-trans bill on Monday that might be the most egregious in the country. If passed, it could force professional sports organizations out of the state once again.

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Senate Bill 514 would follow the lead of many other Republican-run states by not allowing transgender youth to receive gender-affirming treatment as a child. However, while most bills allow transgender individuals to receive gender-affirming care at 18, North Carolina’s bill would push the age requirement to 21. If doctors provided gender-affirming care to transgender children they could lose their license or be hit with hefty fines. The bill also pressures state employees to notify parents in writing if their child is gender non-conforming, or does not identify with their birth gender, which advocates fear could “out” people to families.

It’s a move from the state that’s perplexing, especially considering how this state has gotten burned by enacting anti-trans legislation in the past with House Bill 2 in 2016, which was more famously known as the “Bathroom Bill.” The bill prohibited transgender individuals from using the gendered bathroom that they identify, with along with limiting discrimination protection for transgender citizens. In response to the bill, the state was projected to lose $3.76 billion in business over a dozen years before parts of the legislation were repealed in 2017.

The NCAA and NBA played significant roles in pressuring the state to overturn parts of HB 2 by moving major events that were set to bring in major revenue to the state. The NBA shifted its 2017 All-Star Weekend from Charlotte and the NCAA moved seven championship events from the state and threatened to pull more unless action was taken.

North Carolina joining this battle to prevent transgender inclusion is baffling. Not only do they show that they have no regard for the LGBTQIA+ community by following other states on this wave, but they decided to make their proposed legislation even more restrictive than other states. They’ve clearly learned nothing from the past five years about how sports, entertainment, and politics all intersect.

Do Republican lawmakers in the state want to run the risk of the state losing more money, as it did in 2016? Pulling out of states that have oppressive laws has become so accepted that even Major League Baseball joined the party.

Arkansas became the first state to enact similar legislation after they overrode Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the bill. It remains to be seen how sports will react to the state, but it could be limited considering that there are no professional sports teams in Arkansas. In North Carolina it’s a different story, if this law is enacted, it would probably take no time before sports leagues start pulling events out of the state again.

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North Carolina better pump the breaks before going down this path — they’ve seen the consequences once already.