BUFFALO, N.Y. — A medical student in New York has been prohibited from traveling to North Carolina to participate in a pharmacy program due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on non-essential government travel to the state due to his objections to its “bathroom bill,” which restricts men from using women’s restrooms and vice versa.
University of Buffalo pharmacy student Christine Piccione had desired to perform her rotations at UNC Chapel Hill, which she believes has the best pharmacy program in the country.
But as the University of Buffalo is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, she was told by SUNY legal counsel that her visit would be considered state-sponsored travel, and would therefore be prohibited.
As previously reported, in late March, following controversy over North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which requires those who identify as transgender to present their birth certificate before using restrooms in government buildings that correlate with their “gender identity,” Gov. Cuomo banned any non-compulsory government travel to the state.
“Whereas the state of North Carolina has enacted legislation to bar transgender persons from using bathrooms and changing facilities corresponding to such persons’ gender identities,” the order read in part, “I, Andrew M. Cuomo, … do hereby order and direct all agencies, departments, boards, authorities and commissions … to bar any such publicly funded or publicly sponsored travel to such location, unless such travel is necessary for the enforcement of New York State law, to meet prior contractual obligations, or for the protection of public health, welfare, and safety.”
Piccione told local television station WGRZ that she has tried a number of avenues to seek permission to travel to North Carolina, including writing the governor and having other students send letters of support, but she has not had any success.
A spokesperson for the university also confirmed to the outlet that the student has not been permitted to do her rotation in North Carolina due to Cuomo’s restrictions.
“Options available locally, as well as in other states, provide a level of training equivalent to opportunities available in North Carolina,” they stated. “We are confident that students receive a level of clinical training that is equivalent to the options available in North Carolina.”
Piccione says she thinks it is unfair that she cannot be free to obtain what she feels is the best education possible simply because of the university’s location.
“I definitely think it does put me at a disadvantage. I’m going to be competing against the top students in the country for jobs, and I just don’t think it’s fair that I don’t get that opportunity when we can travel anywhere else in the country—anywhere else in the world even—and I can’t travel to one state in my own country,” she lamented.