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The governor of Alabama has enacted new rules that could face doctors with jail time if they continue to prescribe hormone treatment and puberty-blocking drugs to transgender youth.
LGBTQ advocates have described it as a combination of the “toilet bill” and the “don’t say gay” bill, echoing similarly controversial legislation recently passed in other US states.
Alabama bills criminalize so-called gender-affirming health care for trans minors, which can also include surgery to help align physical characteristics with a person’s gender identity. nobody.
What do the new laws mean in practice?
It is now a crime for parents and medical professionals to provide gender-affirming medical care – such as puberty blockers, hormones and surgery – to people under 18.
The new rules also mean that young transgender people must use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth, not the sex they identify with, hence the label ‘bathroom bill’. which was attributed to him by critics.
Governor Kay Ivey, a conservative Republican, said: “I believe very strongly that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you’re a boy, and if he made you a girl, you’re a girl. “
She signed the bills into law just a day after they passed the state House of Representatives.
NBC News reports that his signing makes Alabama the third state in the nation to pass a measure restricting transition care, despite being the first state to impose criminal penalties.
‘I’m scared now’: what the laws mean for those affected
Teenage Harleigh Walker spent her spring break trying to persuade House members to reject legislation that would affect transgender children like her.
The new rules mean her doctor faces up to 10 years behind bars if she continues to prescribe the 15-year-old on her testosterone-blocking drugs.
“Honestly, I’m a little scared now,” Harleigh said after learning the bill had passed. “But we will always fight – no matter what.”
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She said she remains hopeful the bill will be blocked in court, as her family desperately searches for another state where they can continue their medical care.
It’s “strange”, she said, to see politicians with no medical background calling her drugs “child abuse” when six doctors agreed she should take them after years of counseling.
Her father, Jeff Walker, said many of the same politicians have also recently argued, “It’s your body, your choice,” when it comes to COVID vaccinations.
Reaction from activists, medical experts and the president
Cathryn Oakley – state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ community advocacy group – called the new laws “cruel and cowardly”.
Alabama is among several states with Republican-controlled legislatures to have proposed such laws.
Florida has introduced a bill that bans “classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity” in elementary schools across the state. Dubbed Bill “Don’t Say Gay”it was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis – widely seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
Republican lawmakers in Ohio introduced similar legislation, but went further and also targeted “diverse” teachings about race. The Texas governor said passing a similar bill in Florida was a “top priority” for next year.
Arizona has introduced laws that would require school employees to tell parents if a child confides in them that they are transgender. And Indiana, Arizona and Iowa have all introduced bills allowing parents to opt out of classes on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The measures prompted a swift response from medical experts and the Biden administration, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki denouncing the passage of Florida’s “hateful legislation targeting vulnerable students.”
Last month, the Justice Department sent a letter to all 50 state attorneys general, warning them that preventing trans and non-binary youth from receiving gender-affirming care could violate federal constitutional protections.
Wave of new conservative laws across the United States
The bills targeting transgender people are part of a wave of restrictive new laws sweeping the United States.
In Oklahoma, the House passed a bill that would make it illegal to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
It follows Texas, which has the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, and bans the procedure after doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat – about six weeks into a pregnancy – with no exceptions for rape , sexual abuse, incest or fetal abnormalities. This came into force in September.
Tennessee, Idaho and Missouri all rushed to introduce copycat bills. Arkansas would see abortion banned at any stage of pregnancy except when the mother’s life is in danger.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization focused on reproductive health rights, 71 bills have been introduced in 28 states this year to ban or prohibit abortions.
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