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Alabama governor signs transitional care ban for transgender youth

Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama on Friday signed legislation that bars medical professionals from providing care that helps transgender youth transition, passing some of the most restrictive measures in the nation and threatening doctors and nurses a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Ms. Ivey, a Republican, has also endorsed legislation that requires students to use restrooms and locker rooms for the gender listed on their original birth certificates. It also limits classroom discussions about gender and sexual orientation — a version of what critics call a “Don’t Say Gay” measure that goes further than some other states.

The legislation is part of a flurry of bills introduced across the country as conservative lawmakers have focused their attention on transgender people and other LGBTQ issues, including limiting what doctors call affirming care. and banning some transgender students from participating in school sports.

“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,” Ms Ivey said in a statement after signing the invoices. “We should especially protect our children from these radical, life-changing drugs and surgeries when they are at such a vulnerable stage in their lives.”

The Medical Care Act, which passed lawmakers on Thursday, has been condemned by the transgender community as well as the medical establishment. Opponents argue that the law, instead of protecting children as its supporters claim, targets and endangers young people who are already particularly vulnerable. The American Medical Association has attacked measures such as government intrusion, blocking transition-related care that is considered medically necessary.

Legal challenges are being prepared by the Transgender Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, among other groups, to prevent enforcement of the legislation. Last year, a federal court blocked Arkansas from enforcing a similar law.

“We will see the state in court and we are extremely confident that we will get a preliminary injunction before the law takes effect on May 8,” said Kaitlin Welborn, an attorney with the ACLU of Alabama. She added that transgender children in the state know they have access to their normal health care and should continue to seek it in the meantime.

Although other states have also taken steps to limit medical care for transgender youth, Alabama has passed a law that goes further than others by making it a crime to prescribe hormones or puberty-blocking drugs or carrying out gender affirmation operations. Nor would it allow educators and school nurses to “encourage or coerce” students to conceal from their parents “the fact that the minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s sex” .

In the legislation, called the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, its sponsors said that “minors, and often their parents, are unable to fully understand and appreciate the risks and implications for life, including permanent sterility, that result from the use of puberty blockers”. , cross-sex hormones and surgical procedures.

Regarding legislation governing the use of restrooms and locker rooms, Ms Ivey said in her statement that “here in Alabama, men use the men’s restroom and women use the women’s restroom – it really is a no-brainer” .

She also criticized the description of the amendment that limits classroom discussion as a “don’t say gay” measure. “It’s misleading, false and just plain wrong,” she said. “We don’t need to teach young children about sex. We are talking about 5 year olds for crying out loud. We need to focus on what matters – basic education like reading and math.

Taken together, activists and advocates said these laws put transgender young people at risk, impeding intensive care and inhibiting their ability to express their identity. They added that they also amplify harmful rhetoric that threatens to further marginalize a population that is at heightened risk for suicide. The ACLU of Alabama said the legislation is part of a “systematic and growing attack on trans people, especially trans youth, in all aspects of life.”

“The way to reduce harm to trans youth is to provide them with gender-affirming health care where medically indicated,” Chase Strangio of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project said in a statement. “This bill removes this life-saving treatment option and makes it a crime.

“Moving forward with this bill will be deadly for trans youth, push doctors out of a state that lacks medical providers, hurt Alabama’s economy, and subject the state to costly litigation. .”

Tariro Mzezewa contributed report.


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