The Alabama Senate approved a new bill yesterday prohibiting the medical treatment of minors with puberty-blockers, hormone therapy, or sex-change surgery.
Senate Bill 10, titled the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, was approved 23-4, and now heads to the state House of Representatives, which has already approved a companion bill.
The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act would "prohibit the performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child, that is intended to alter the appearance of the minor child's gender or delay puberty, with certain exceptions." This means that puberty-blockers or hormone therapy (giving a female testosterone or a male estrogen) can’t be prescribed and that gender reassignment surgeries are outlawed for minors.
The bill further states that "No nurse, counselor, teacher, principal, or other administrative official at a public or private school attended by a minor [shall] withhold from a minor's parent or legal guardian information related to a minor's perception that his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with his or her sex." This means the school is responsible for informing parents that their child is feeling gender dysphoria if the child shares that information with the school.
The bill does provide exemptions for individuals born with a sexual organ development disorder, allowing minors to receive medical treatments for their condition.
Senate Bill 10 and its companion bill together would make it a Class C Felony for medical professionals to treat transgender minors in a way that supports their transition. Violators could face up to 10 years in prison or a $15,000 fine.
The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act was sponsored by Republican Sen. Shay Shelnutt of Trussville. "Children aren't mature enough to make these decisions on surgeries and drugs," Shelnutt told The Associated Press. "The whole point is to protect kids."
Shelnutt likened this bill to the state also banning minors from smoking and drinking.
During the debate, Shelnutt admitted he didn’t know “that such treatments were being done in Alabama when he first introduced the bill last year” and that “he has never spoken to a transgender youth.”
Shelnutt also opposed an amendment to the bill clarifying that counseling could continue. Shelnutt said he supports counseling, but “not any that confirms a gender identity that conflicts with birth.”
“We don’t want them affirming that, ‘Hey yeah, you’re right, you should be a boy if you are a born a female’,” Shelnutt said.
While at least eight other states are considering similar measures, Alabama would be the first state to pass such a bill into law.