Alabama lawmakers vote to make providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth a crime

The bill passed the state Senate in February.

Republican Governor Kay Ivey has not taken a public position on the bill, and her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether she plans to sign it into law.

Proponents of the bill have argued that transgender youth could face long-term consequences of treatment that they may later regret.

“Their brains aren’t developed to make long-term decisions about what these drugs and surgeries are doing to their bodies,” Rep. Wes Allen, sponsor of the House version of the bill, said Thursday, according to the report. Associated Press.

The American Academy of Pediatrics considers puberty suppression and hormone therapy among the ways pediatricians can provide “developmentally appropriate” care for transgender youth.

The legislation also prohibits gender-affirming surgeries on transgender youth, although this is already not common practice among doctors, and prohibits teachers and other school officials from protecting a student’s gender identity from his parent or guardian.

If Ivey signs the measure into law, Alabama would become the third state to block access to gender-affirming care for minors, and the first to impose a prison sentence. Lawmakers could override a simple majority veto.

Arkansas approved a ban on gender-affirming care last year after lawmakers overruled a veto by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson – who called the legislation a “vast excess of government” – although a federal court ruled prevented the law from coming into effect. Tennessee lawmakers also last year approved a law banning hormone treatments for prepubescent minors, though doctors do not provide such treatments until children enter puberty.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama, Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center pledged Thursday to take Alabama’s proposal to court if it becomes law.

“The Alabama Legislature and Governor Kay Ivey must consider the time and resources they will invest, not to mention the stain of discrimination that often means lost opportunities and investments, and consider whether targeting care Children’s Health Care is truly worth it because we are willing to make this investment to protect transgender youth, their families, and their doctors in Alabama,” said Carl Charles, senior attorney at Lambda Legal.

Lawmakers also passed a separate bill on Thursday preventing transgender students from using bathrooms or locker rooms that match their gender identity. The legislation was changed at the last minute to also include a version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and is now coming back to the House for final approval.

In context : The passage of the Alabama bill comes amid an escalation in GOP efforts this year to pass measures that restrict access to health care, participation in school sports and access to restrooms for transgender youth in state houses.

The ACLU identified bills in 19 states that proposed to restrict access to health care for transgender youth, although some of the proposals have since failed.

A bill in Idaho that would also have made providing gender-affirming care to transgender children a crime passed the House last month but was blocked by Republican Senate leaders, who said the policy “infringes on parental rights”.

texas republican Governor Greg Abbott in February ordered the state child welfare agency to investigate parents seeking gender-affirming care after Republican lawmakers in that state proposed laws banning puberty blockers and hormone therapy but failed to pass them. Last month, a Texas judge blocked the state from enforcing the policy, although state attorney general Ken Paxton indicated that he planned to do so anyway, waiting for a call.

What the federal government says: The US Department of Justice last week sent a letter to state attorneys general outlining federal constitutional and statutory protections for transgender youth, including those seeking gender-affirming care.

“Intentionally erecting discriminatory barriers to prevent individuals from receiving gender-affirming care involves a number of federal legal safeguards,” wrote Kristen Clark, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “State laws and policies that prevent parents or guardians from following the advice of a health care professional regarding medically necessary or otherwise appropriate care for transgender minors may violate the rights protected by both equal protection and the due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. .”


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