MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A legislative committee has advanced a proposal that would prohibit transgender minors from being treated with puberty-blockers, hormone treatment or surgery to affirm their gender identity.
The Senate Health Committee advanced the bill, which 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. The bill now moves to the full Alabama Senate.
"This bill is strictly about protecting children," Republican Sen. Shay Shelnutt of Trussville told the committee. "It just prohibits medical treatments on otherwise healthy minors. Those medical treatments are surgeries, puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones," Shelnutt said. He added that he understands those surgeries aren't performed in Alabama, but he said it is important to ban hormonal treatment.
A parent, a transgender teen and other advocates spoke against the bill they said would harm kids instead of protecting them. They also said the legislation reflects a deep misunderstanding of transgender people and the treatment they can receive.
Monroe Smith, an 18-year-old high school senior at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, told the committee that he received gender-affirming medical care only after a long process. He called the treatment "necessary and life-saving medical services."
"I think the misconception is that at the drop of a hat that I could have immediately started this journey. The reality was that when I was 13, with the consent and support of my parents, we began a slow and steady process of communication between myself, my parents, my doctors and mental health professionals — all for the purpose of making sure that we were informed and ready to pursue this long journey ahead," he said.
Jeff White, the parent of a 13-year-old transgender daughter, said lawmakers are trying to interfere with decisions that belong to parents and doctors and take "away our daughter's access to peer-reviewed medicine."
"Worse yet this bill inflicts terror and uncertainty on our family and exploits our daughter's vulnerability by packaging her suffering into political capital. She is far more than collateral damage in a fabricated culture war. Her happiness and sense of self and access to a normal childhood should not be stolen," White said.
Similar legislation has been introduced in previous years but did not win final approval.
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