The Alabama Senate recently passed a bill that is aimed at preventing minors from getting medications or treatments to change their gender. It would make it a felony for doctors to treat transgender youth with hormonal therapy and puberty blockers to help their transition.
The Senate Bill 10, called the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection act, would criminalize medical professions for administering puberty blockers or performing sex-change surgery on transgender minors. It passed 23-4 and will go to the House. If signed into law, a medical professional caught providing the treatments to youth under the age of 19 would face a felony conviction with up to 10 years in jail or a $15,000 fine.
The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Shay Shelnutt, who acknowledged that he has never spoken to a transgender youth and said he did not know such treatments were being done in Alabama when he first introduced it. He argues that such decisions should wait until adulthood and that children aren’t mature enough to make decisions on surgeries and drugs. He says the entire point of the bill is to protect children.
“The primary concern here is the health and well-being of Alabama’s children. We must protect vulnerable minors who do not have the mental capacity to make life-altering decisions of this caliber. The efficacy and effects of these particular surgeries and methods of treatment are not well-sustained by medical evidence, and actions of this severity cannot be undone,” Shelnutt said.
The bill also requires school staff to notify parents in the state that “a minor’s perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex.”
Liberal groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and the Alabama American Civil Liberties Union, have voiced opposition to the bill, arguing that it puts transgender children “at risk.” They said the bill stops students from seeking counsel or comfort from their teachers or school staff and that the decision should be between parents, the minor, and a doctor.
Last year, Idaho passed a law, House Bill 500, the Fairness for Women in Sports Act, that bans biological males from competing in women’s sports in the state. The law points to “inherent differences” between men and women, along with the physiological differences between males and females that result in different athletic capabilities.
“I have been working on this legislation for 20 months. As both a former Division I Women’s Basketball player and Division I Women’s Basketball Coach for over 15 years, I know first hand that as females, we cannot compete against the inherent physiological advantages that boys & men have,” said Rep. Barbara Ehardt, the bills co-sponsor.
At the time, Ehardt said that this is not “anti-anything” but rather pro opportunities for biological girls and women and insisted to “ensure opportunities for girls and women as we move forward.”
Alabama is one of at least eight states where lawmakers are pushing measures to limit sex-change surgeries for minors and keep sports within their biological sex.