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Photography Santiago Franco Schicke

Alabama will now force trans youth to detransition

Providing healthcare for young transgender patients will also be punishable by up to 10 years in prison

There’s been a recent raft of appalling anti-trans legislation in the US – and last night, state legislators in Alabama approved one of the most damning bills yet.

Senate Bill 184 prohibits doctors from prescribing puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgeries for transgender youth – despite the fact that Alabama health care providers have repeatedly explained that irreversible surgeries are not performed on minors in the state.

The bill, which criminalises gender-affirming care for transgender youth, is the first in the US to make providing healthcare for young transgender patients punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The legislation also essentially forces school staff to out trans youth to their parents, as it prohibits “a nurse, counsellor, teacher, principal or other administrative officials at a public or private school” from “encouraging or coercing a minor” to withhold from a parent or guardian whether their gender identity when it is “inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”

A last-minute amendment to the bill also added so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, which broadly prohibits any classroom discussion relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. (Ironically, some people have pointed out that this would also outlaw any reference to heterosexuality or gendered titles such as ‘Mrs’ or ‘Mr’.)

The bill is now headed for the desk of Republican Governor Kay Ivey who is expected to sign the legislation into law.

Thankfully, there has been pushback from various human rights groups against the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center have vowed to take legal action against the state if Ivey signs the bill into law. “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 Sruti Swaminathan, staff attorney for Lambda Legal.

“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,” she said.

“If passed and signed into law, Alabama will have the most deadly, sweeping, and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country,” added Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project.

“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 lifesaving 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,” he said.

This harmful bill is just one anti-trans bill out of hundreds being introduced across the US right now – according to The Independent, legislation targeting transgender people in the US has surged from 18 bills in 2018 to more than 150 in 2022.