A new Alabama law went into place recently, making it a felony to provide gender-affirming treatments to transgender youth. Currently, a federal judge will weigh whether to put forth a motion to put a temporary hold on this law.
What Are the Details of the Legislation Law in Alabama?
The legislation makes it punishable by up to 10 years in prison if someone provides puberty blockers, hormones, and medical procedures to any transgender youth under 19.
These laws are as follows:
SB 184: As previously mentioned, this law makes it a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison if someone is provided with gender-affirming care. SB 184 also makes educators “out” children to their parents.
HB 322: This law prohibits K-12 students from using bathrooms and school facilities consistent with their gender identity. In addition, this law forbids conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms for grades K-5, along the same lines as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill.
On April 8, Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill; however, it does not reach as far as it does in Arkansas, as it was blocked by the courts the previous year before taking effect.
Following a two-day hearing, U.S. District Judge Liles Burke did not indicate whether he would rule on the motion to temporarily stop the ban’s enforcement while a lawsuit is pending.
This lawsuit was put together by organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. They state that the ban would cause “immediate and irreparable” harm to the plaintiffs and violate their constitutional rights.
Why Are the SB 184 and HB 322 Laws Harmful?
The groups also filed this lawsuit on behalf of the parents of four Alabama transgender youth, two physicians, and a minister. In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice joined in on the case, saying that the Alabama law “violated the equal protection clause” of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.
This law prevents transgender youth from accessing lifesaving resources and isolates them from their peers and communities. Unfortunately, these laws have some of the most anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-transgender legislation, creating an unsafe space for the LGBTQ+ community in Alabama.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and GLBTQ Legal Defenders and Advocates fight for transgender youth and need as much support as possible.
These groups also work directly with families to offer the necessary resources, tools, and support.
Who Else Is Against These Laws?
The American Medical Association has been publicly critical of the Alabama law and said it is “government intrusion into the practice of medicine that is detrimental to the health of transgender and gender-diverse children and adults.”
According to a letter to the National Governors Association last year, the organization stated that transition-related care was medically necessary and that preventing it could lead to harmful consequences. For example, transgender people are three times as likely than the general population to be diagnosed with mental health conditions and have a higher risk of suicide.
A study published this month featured the first significant data sets on transgender young people and determined that children undergoing a gender transition at a young age are still likely to continue identifying by this gender after five years.
In addition, the families who brought this challenge forward were concerned that the law would jeopardize the emotional well-being of their children. Parents also testified that transitioning was helpful and the reason behind the improvement of their children’s mental health, and that they were afraid if they stopped the treatment, it would reverse any progress.
A 15-year-old plaintiff in the court records, with the initials H.W., said, “The possibility of losing access to my medical care because of this law causes me deep anxiety. I would not feel like myself anymore if this lifesaving medication was criminalized.”
How Many Anti-transgender Bills Have Been Introduced by Republic Lawmakers?
Republican lawmakers have put forth hundreds of anti-trans bills across state legislatures, mainly targeted at trans youth.
Many Republicans and conservatives use the angle of promoting these laws as “safeguards” for children and parental rights. However, opponents and allies like Democrats and LGBTQ+ organizations recognize how harmful and damaging this legislation is and how there will be catastrophic consequences on a population that is already at risk and vulnerable.
A recent survey by the Trevor Project, a non-profit that focuses on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ young people, found that 93% of transgender and non-binary youth are worried about trans people “being denied access to gender-affirming medical care; due to state or local laws.”
What Will Likely Happen With This Bill?
Both of Alabama’s legislative houses are currently controlled by a veto-proof Republican majority. In other words, it is unlikely that there will be any intervention from Republican Governor Kay Ivey.
According to Alabama ACLU staff attorney Kaitlin Welborne in a discussion with CNN, the bills are “shameful” and “if the state moves forward in passing this unconstitutional bill, we’ll see them in court.”
In addition, Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s Deputy Director for Transgender Justice, posted to Twitter that he was “livid” and “we will sue, but that isn’t a solution. We need massive movements in defense of trans lives.”
There is no doubt about it – the legislation outlined in Alabama is dehumanizing and dangerous for trans youth in this state. It will make LGBTQ+ youth more vulnerable than they already are and feel more isolated within their community. Trans youth need to be supported and welcomed in their community to thrive.