On Thursday, Alabama lawmakers passed a bill that would outlaw medical procedures or prescription medicine that aim to alter a minor’s gender, threatening ten years in prison for medical providers who participate in such care.
The state’s House of Representatives passed State Bill 184 with a vote of 66-28. This is the latest in a flurry of measures across the nation dealing with transgender youth.
SB184 would make it a felony to provide medical treatment like hormone treatment, puberty blockers, and gender reassignment surgery for minors.
A small number of state representatives opposed the bill, stating it violated the rights of families in the state.
Representative Neil Rafferty expressed his opposition to the measure as it was headed for the vote.
“This is wrong,” Rafferty said. “Y’all sit there and campaign on family being the foundation of our nation … but what this bill is doing is totally undermining that. It’s totally undermining family rights, health rights, and access to health care.”
However, Representative Wes Allen, sponsor of the House version of the bill, argued that transgender youth are not old enough to decide about gender-affirming treatments.
“Their brains are not developed to make the decisions long term about what these medications and surgeries do to their body,” Allen said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama (ACLU) is strongly opposed to the legislation.
“Transgender people are no different and have the constitutional right to access necessary healthcare, just like everyone else,” the group said in a statement. “Restricting access to healthcare for transgender people is unconstitutional, plain and simple.”
The group said it would challenge the bill in court if Governor Kay Ivey signed it into law.
Ivey has not stated whether she will sign the bill.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter telling all states that federal constitutional and statutory provisions safeguard transgender youth against discrimination and withholding gender-affirming care.
A more stark warning from the Department of Justice notes that any entity receiving funding from the United States government, such as the local and state governing bodies, must comply with nondiscriminatory laws or risk losing their funding: “many federal statutes require recipients of federal financial assistance to comply with nondiscrimination requirements as a condition of receiving those funds.”
The letter was issued alongside recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services, which released documents outlining the support and proper care of “gender-affirming care” and procedures for “transgender and non-binary children.”