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Alabama’s transgender healthcare ban would face swift lawsuit

The ACLU, the ACLU of Alabama and the New York City-based law firm Lambda Legal say a lawsuit would be imminent.


If Alabama lawmakers pass a law banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth, the state will face a lawsuit, according to groups opposed to the legislation. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama and the New York City-based law firm Lambda Legal on Monday announced plans to file a lawsuit if Alabama passes Senate Bill 10, which would criminalize physicians who provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth, and require school counselors to report instances of “gender dysphoria.”

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Shay Shelnutt, passed the Alabama Senate 21-4 on March 3, and is still being considered by the House, although there are only three more days remaining in this session. 

 “If Alabama lawmakers insist on passing this cruel, dangerous, and unconstitutional legislation into law, the state will immediately have a lawsuit to deal with,” said Carl Charles, staff attorney for Lambda Legal, in a statement. “The Alabama Legislature and Governor Kay Ivey need to consider the time and resources they will invest, not to mention the stain of discrimination that often means lost opportunity and investment and ask themselves if targeting the health care of children is truly worth it because we are prepared to make that investment in order to protect transgender youth, their families, and their doctors, in Alabama.” 

Gov. Kay Ivey signed House Bill 391 into law last week, which prevents transgender students from participating in K-12 sports.

 “The Alabama Legislature has been down this road before, wasting taxpayer time and money to pass unconstitutional bills that they know will get taken to court. This year seems to be no different,” said Kaitlin Welborn, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. “Transgender youth have the constitutional right to access necessary healthcare, just like everyone else. If the state tries to take that healthcare away, we’ll see them in court.” 

 “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. “Science and medicine are clear: The way to reduce harm to trans youth is to provide them with gender-affirming health care where it is medically indicated. This bill takes that life-saving 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.” 

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 Numerous medical organizations oppose the legislation, and warn that if it becomes law it could result in more suicides among transgender youth. 

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: 

 “The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) supports the use of current evidence-based clinical care with minors. AACAP strongly opposes any efforts — legal, legislative, and otherwise — to block access to these recognized interventions. Blocking access to timely care has been shown to increase youths’ risk for suicidal ideation and other negative mental health outcomes.”

American Medical Association:

“The American Medical Association views these bills as a dangerous legislative intrusion into the practice of medicine and has been working closely with state medical associations to vigorously oppose them. In letters to legislators, the AMA has emphasized that it is “imperative that transgender minors be given the opportunity to explore their gender identity under the safe and supportive care of a physician.”

Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, a pediatrics physician and co-leader of the gender health team at UAB, said in a press conference last week that the current evidence-based standardized care provided to transgender youth, which is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatricians, has been in place for decades.

“People don’t choose their gender, and for some gender-diverse kids, the specialized health care we provide on a gender-affirming model can absolutely avert life-threatening dysphoria,” Ladinsky said. “The bill’s horrific wording uses mistruths to elicit fear and further victimize an already marginalized population.” 

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Ladinsky said gender-affirming genital surgery is never performed on minors in Alabama, and puberty blockers are “100 percent reversible and have been used for over 30 years by our profession.”

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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