Alabama bill seeks to ban hormone treatments for trans youth

Published 5:37 am Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Alabama Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would prohibit transgender minors from being given puberty-blockers, hormones or surgeries to affirm their gender identity — treatments that the legislative sponsor equated to child abuse.
Senators voted 24-6 for the legislation that now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Shay Shelnutt of Trussville, would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a doctor to prescribe puberty-blockers or hormones or perform surgery to aid in the gender transition of people 18 years old or younger.

“We don’t want parents to be abusing their children. We don’t want to make that an option, because that’s what it is: It’s child abuse. This is just to protect children,” Shelnutt said.

Opponents said lawmakers were inserting themselves into decisions that belong with families and their doctors.

“That family has the right to be able to make that decision on behalf of their child, not the state of Alabama, not the Legislature,” Sen. Bobby Singleton, said.

A federal judge in July temporarily blocked a similar Arkansas law banning gender confirming treatments for transgender youth. U.S. District Judge Jay Moody found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed with their challenge and that allowing it to be enforced would hurt transgender youth currently receiving the treatments.

The Alabama House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday heard sometimes emotional testimony during a public hearing on a companion bill to the one that cleared the Senate. The committee could vote next week.

Dr. Nola Ernest, a pediatrician and vice president of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the committee that the legislation “overrides science.”

“The use of medications to treat gender dysphoria, under a team of medical experts, is evidence-based standard of care and often life-saving,” Ernest said.

Jeff White, the parent of a transgender daughter, urged lawmakers to, “vote no on this extremist bill before it kills someone.”
“This bill is not about compassion or protection. It is a violation and subjugation of who my daughter is,” White said.

White said his daughter is “one of the kindest and most creative people I am privileged to know” and that the gender-affirming treatment she receives allows her to focus on having a normal childhood.

Sydney Wright, who described herself as a former transgender man, said she still struggles with difficult side effects from taking testosterone as a teen after being diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

She urged lawmakers to approve the bill. Wright said, “nobody recommended that you have time to think or time to grow out of it.”

“I’m not putting the blame on medical professionals. These are choices I made in my teenage years, but I wish someone could have stopped me,” Wright, 22, said.