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Alabama Senate committee OK’s bill to criminalize treatments for transgender youth

Opponents of the bill say preventing such treatments will result in more suicides among transgender youth.

A transgender pride flag painted on a hand. (STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Senate Health Committee on Wednesday unanimously voted to pass a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to provide gender-affirming care for transgender children. 

Senate Bill 184, sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, would make it a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, for anyone to provide gender-affirming medical treatments to children under the age of 19. The bill would also ban operations that would alter a child’s sex, medical procedures that Alabama’s physicians who treat transgender youth say aren’t currently being done. 

Shelnutt’s bill would also require that school staff not “withhold from a minor’s parent or legal guardian information related to a minor’s perception that his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with his or her sex.”

Shellnut’s bill will now head to the full Senate for consideration. 

“If passed and signed into law, this bill would be a gross overreach of government power,” said Dillon Nettles, policy and advocacy director for the ACLU of Alabama in a statement after the vote. “The Legislature is not elected to be the definitive medical authority in the state. Let parents and kids decide what is best for themselves, in consultation with their doctor and current medical best practices.”

The Trevor Project, a California-based nonprofit that focuses on suicide preventing for LGBTQ youth, in a statement condemned the committee’s vote. 

“A growing body of evidence, healthcare professionals, and every major medical and mental health across the country agree: gender-affirming health care is consistently associated with lower suicide risk among transgender and nonbinary youth,” said Sam Ames, director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “It’s clear that this ban is not about those trans and nonbinary youth; it’s about political gain. Lawmakers genuinely concerned about the lives of young Alabamians should be listening to the experts — doctors, families, and trans youth themselves — and put a stop to this bill.”

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A similar bill sponsored by Shellnutt during the state Legislature’s 2021 regular session was approved by the Senate but failed to make it to the House floor before the session ended.

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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