Alabama lawmakers have passed a bill that would criminalize healthcare providers offering gender-affirming care to transgender youth, described as the first legislation of its kind in the US.
The bill would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to provide medical care, including hormone treatment and puberty blockers to minors. It also includes bans on gender-affirming surgeries for transgender youth, which are already extremely rare, and would also compel school personnel to disclose to a parent or guardian that a “minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s sex ”.
Alabama’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, has not taken a public stance on the bill and did not immediately comment on its passage, meaning it is not yet clear whether it will be signed into law.
The bill, which passed the state’s house of representatives by a 66-28 vote, has been met with staunch opposition from Democrats and expert health bodies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urged Ivey to veto the legislation, and has long argued that puberty suppression and hormone therapy provide “developmentally appropriate” care for transgender youths.
“This legislation targets vulnerable young people and puts them at great risk of physical and mental harm,” Mark Del Monte, the academy’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Criminalizing evidence-based, medically necessary services is dangerous.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other legal partners have said they will challenge the legislation should it be signed into law.
“If passed and signed into law, Alabama will have the most deadly, sweeping and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project.
“The way to reduce harm to trans youth is to provide them with gender-affirming healthcare, where it is medically indicated. This bill takes that lifesaving treatment option off the table and makes it a felony.”
Democrats in the statehouse opposed the bill in part by arguing it contradicted Republican principles on the role of government.
“This is not small government, this is not a conservative bill,” the Democratic representative Neil Rafferty told the chamber.
But the Republican representative Wes Allen liked the initiative to laws that prevent minors from getting tattoos or buying nicotine products.
“We make decisions in this body all the time that are to protect children from making decisions that could permanently harm them,” Allen said.
The Alabama state senate has also passed a bill that would require students in public schools to use bathrooms or changing rooms that match the gender shown on their original birth certificates.
An amendment was attached to the bill, which now has to go back to the House for a vote, prohibiting classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grades.
The Alabama vote marks the latest in a series of Republican state efforts to curb healthcare options for trans youth. Last week, Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, signed a bill banning irreversible gender reassignment surgery for minors.
In Georgia this week, the general assembly passed a bill that could ban transgender youth from high school sports teams.
And in Florida, the Republican governor, Ron De Santis, signed a law forbidding instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten to third grade, amid outcry from LGBTQ+ advocates.