The Alabama House Judiciary Committee in an 11-3 vote Wednesday approved a bill that would prohibit certain medical treatments for transgender youth, moving the bill on to the full House, where members will ultimately decide its fate.
Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, introduced the bill, which would outlaw puberty-blocking medications, surgeries and hormone treatments for minors. Committee members Wednesday also approved an amendment to Allen’s bill by committee chairman Rep. Jim Hill, R-Moody, that removed the bill’s ban on allowing psychologists from providing counseling to transgendered minors, in accordance with their training.
Allen, speaking on Hill’s amendment before members voted to approve it, said he was “not comfortable” with the amendment, but out of respect for the commission, he’d accept it.
There was no debate on the bill during Wednesday’s hearing, but in a public hearing in the committee two weeks ago, members heard from physicians who were opposed to the legislation, and some who said the law was needed.
David Fuller, a sergeant with the Gadsden Police Department, told committee members at the previous hearing that the help he received from University of Alabama at Birmingham for his transgendered daughter was critical for his family, and credited the hospital’s help in saving his daughter’s life. She had expressed suicidal thoughts, he said.
“They made us feel like we weren’t alone, that we were normal in an abnormal situation, and that they could help us,” Fuller said.
Dillon Nettles, director of policy and advocacy at the ACLU of Alabama, issued a statement on the House Judicial Committee’s passage of the bill:
“We are disappointed that Alabama lawmakers have once again set out to take away the healthcare choices of everyday Alabamians, and just like the abortion ban in 2019, this anti-trans bill is unconstitutional. If HB1 or SB10 pass and is signed by the governor, it could represent another costly lawsuit for the state. Lawmakers have enough on their hands with COVID-19 and the DOJ lawsuit over Alabama’s prisons that the last thing they should be wasting taxpayer money on is involving themselves in a medical issue that they have no expertise or training on.”
Scott McCoy, Southern Poverty Law Center’s interim deputy director, LGBTQ Rights & Special Litigation, in a statement after Wednesday’s vote said the committee showed complete disregard for transgender youth and their families by moving forward a bill that presents one of the most extreme political attacks on transgender people in recent memory.
“We are disappointed that, despite reservations expressed by committee members, House Bill 1 is moving forward, particularly after the heart-wrenching testimony during last week’s public hearing by Sgt. David Fuller,” McCoy said. “This legislation disregards the medical needs of transgender children and the hard choices that their families make in their best interest. It would criminalize the very doctors that so many families turn to in their times of need. The last place for governmental overreach is at the bridge of personal medical decisions and the advice of trained professionals.”
“Aside from taking healthcare decisions away from families, it also adds another layer of legal responsibility for educators and school personnel, who would be required to report a child’s expressions of gender dysphoria to their parents,” McCoy continued. “Suicide rates among transgender youth are significantly higher than their peers. Requiring a math teacher or coach – who may be the child’s only trusted adult mentor – to violate the child’s trust could have devastating consequences.”
The Alabama Senate Health Committee on Feb. 9 approved the Senate’s version of the bill, moving that bill on to the full Senate for consideration.