New Alabama Law Bans Gender Transition Drugs, Surgeries for Minors

New Alabama Law Bans Gender Transition Drugs, Surgeries for Minors
LGBT activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall on Oct. 24, 2018. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed measures into law that outlaw so-called puberty-blocking drugs or hormones for children and prohibit some teachers from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation matters in school.

One of those Republican-backed proposals, Senate Bill 184, was approved in the state House on a largely party-line vote on April 7. It makes it a felony for a doctor to prescribe any drug “intended to alter gender or delay puberty” or perform gender transition surgery on people under age 19, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.
The other measure, House Bill 322, requires that the state’s public school students use restrooms and locker rooms that align with their sex as stated on their original birth certificate. It passed with an amendment that prohibits public schools from teaching or allowing classroom discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Alabama is now the only state in the nation to have a ban on gender-altering treatments for minors, although some other states have sought to enact similar measures.

In April 2021, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a similar bill to the Alabama law, calling the measure “a product of the cultural war in America” and “vast” and “extreme” government overreach. Arkansas’s GOP-dominated Legislature overrode his veto, although a federal judge granted a temporary block on the law’s enforcement while a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) proceeds.

Both bills that were signed by Ivey on April 8 go into effect in 30 days, although legal challenges are expected.

The ACLU and the Transgender Law Center have vowed to take on the ban on gender-affirming care. Another coalition of progressive advocacy groups, including The Southern Poverty Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Human Rights Campaign, said they are filing a separate lawsuit on behalf of two medical providers and multiple families who “will be directly harmed” by the passage of SB 184.

“This dangerous bill undermines Alabama parents’ ability to make decisions about what’s best for their kids,” said Scott McCoy, a legal director of the LGBTQ rights division at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “It is indefensible for the state to reach in and interfere so completely with family medical decision-making and it will not hold up to constitutional scrutiny.”

The Biden administration also weighed in on the debate, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying at a press briefing that Alabama’s new laws are an “extreme government overreach” and “will only serve to harm kids.”

In response, Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl said the Biden administration has no authority of pushing a “radical leftist agenda” onto his state.

“Alabamians are tired of the Biden Administration’s radical leftist agenda and overreach into our state affairs,” Wahl said. “Our message to the Biden Administration is to respect the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution, and keep your nose out of our business.”

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