MONTGOMERY, Al. – A bill that would criminalize gender-affirming care for minors cleared the Alabama Legislature Thursday. As the legislation heads to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, some of the largest LGBTQ+ rights and social justice organizations are promising to challenge the measure should it be signed into law.
S.B. 184, which would be the first bill in the U.S. to make providing gender-affirming care to those under 19 a felony, passed the House along party lines.
The measure would ban puberty blockers, hormone therapies and surgeries for minors in Alabama. The legislation would punish doctors and parents who violate the law with up to 10 years in prison. Supporters of the legislation argue the bill is necessary to protect children in the state.
In response, major LGBTQ+ and civil rights organizations – including The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – announced they would challenge the bill in court if Ivey signs it.
“A state cannot criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing needed medical treatments,” said Asaf Orr, senior staff attorney and Transgender Youth Project director at the NCLR. “This is a blatantly unconstitutional bill that will cause enormous stress and harm to Alabama families and cost Alabama taxpayers millions of dollars to defend.”
Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey, the Alabama state director for the HRC, added that lawmakers “recklessly passed a bill that goes directly against the best advice of the medical community and intrudes on the rights of parents and families to make their own medical decisions,” urging Ivey to veto legislation.
A federal judge temporarily blocked a similar ban on gender-affirming care in Arkansas last year.
Meanwhile, the Alabama Senate passed an anti-Trans bathroom bill, which would keep Trans youth from using gendered facilities that match their gender identity in schools. A last-minute amendment would also keep educators from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms, similar to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last week. It will go back to the House for approval.
So far this year, state lawmakers have proposed over 240 anti-LGBTQ+ bills – many of which target Trans youth – according to Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan campaign to win LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections nationwide, legislative tracker.
Texas has been at the forefront of banning gender-affirming care after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive that required the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate gender-affirming care as “child abuse,” while also mandating licensed professionals and general citizens report the procedures or face “criminal penalties.” It followed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s formal opinion concluding that performing certain “sex-change” procedures on children is “child abuse” under Texas law.
Two Texas courts have issued temporary injunctions, barring the DFPS from investigating parents and families of Trans youth.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Lambda Legal, Transgender Law Center, and Cooley LLP announced today plans to file a legal challenge to the legislation in Alabama that would criminalize medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care to transgender adolescents with up to 10 years in prison.
“Our representatives have been hearing from medical experts, parents, transgender youth, and other advocates for the past three years in an attempt to stop this harmful bill from passing. But despite this strong opposition, the Legislature seems determined to move ahead with this shameful effort to prevent parents and kids from deciding the best course of treatment for themselves,” said Kaitlin Welborn, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. “If the state moves forward in passing this unconstitutional bill, we’ll see them in court.”
A federal court has blocked Arkansas from enforcing a similar law that was passed last year. A state court in Texas has also blocked the state from investigating parents of transgender adolescents receiving gender-affirming care for child abuse.
“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. “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.”