Alabama’s state legislators gave final approval to a bill that could imprison doctors for up to a decade for prescribing medical treatments to transgender youth.
The bill criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender people younger than 19 years old is the first in the US to make healthcare for young transgender patients punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Senate Bill 184 prohibits doctors from prescribing puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries for transgender youth, though Alabama health care providers have repeatedly told legislators that such surgeries were not performed on minors in the state.
The legislation – which passed the state House on 7 April following its passage in the Senate earlier this year – also prohibits “a nurse, counselor, teacher, principal or other administrative officials at a public or private school” from “encouraging or coercing a minor ” to hold from a parent or guardian whether their “perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”
The bill heads to the desk of Republican Governor Kay Ivey.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center have vowed to sue the state if the bill is signed into law.
“Anti-equality legislators in the state capital have recklessly passed a bill that goes directly against the best advice of the medical community and intrudes on the rights of parents and families to make their own medical decisions,” according to the Human Rights Campaign’s Alabama State Director Carmarion D Anderson-Harvey.
Alabama’s state Senate also approved another bill – House Bill 322 – that bans transgender youth from using restrooms or locker rooms in schools that match their gender identity.
A last-minute amendment also added language mirroring what opponents have called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, creating a broad prohibition on classroom speech related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Alabama state Rep. Neil Rafferty, the only openly gay member of the state legislature, said last month that the transgender healthcare bill amounts to “putting [legislators] in the doctor’s office and wagging our fingers at parents.”
“We’re talking about an unprecedented move… dictating what parents do with private family medical decisions they make with a team of medical providers,” he said.
Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, said that if the bill is signed into law, “Alabama will have the most deadly, sweeping, and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country.”
“The way to reduce harm to trans youth is to provide them with gender-affirming health care where it is medically indicated,” he said in a statement. “This bill takes that lifesaving treatment option off the table and makes it a felony. Moving forward with this bill will be deadly for trans youth, push doctors out of a state that has a shortage of medical providers, hurt Alabama’s economy, and subject the state to costly litigation.”
This is a developing story