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Republicans pass bill to make it illegal for doctors to prescribe life-saving treatment to trans youth

Patrick Kelleher March 6, 2020
Alabama senate trans

Trans flag. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty)

Republicans in the Alabama state senate have overwhelmingly passed a bill that would make it illegal for doctors to prescribe life-saving treatment to trans youth.

The bill will now go to the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives where lawmakers will decide whether to pass the the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act into law.

Under the terms of the bill, doctors could face up to 10 years in prison if the prescribe puberty blockers or hormone treatment to trans people aged under 19.

The bill, which would also ban minors from receiving gender confirmation surgery, was introduced by Alabama Senator Shay Shelnutt, AL.com reports.

Alabama Senator Shay Shelnutt incorrectly suggested that puberty blockers for trans youth are ‘irreversible’.

The Alabama senate has passed the bill despite a recent academic study finding that puberty blockers can be “life saving” for trans teenagers.

“I just don’t think and others don’t think that kids should be given experimental drugs or surgeries that could have irreversible consequences for the rest of their life,” Shelnutt said.

“Kids are not fully developed until later in life. I think we can all agree that kids aren’t capable of making certain decisions until certain ages. And so, we want to just stop these procedures from happening in Alabama.”

You should at least have the facts and figures to back up what you’re trying to do.

The Senator did not know how many trans youth in his state had been prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s only 20 that it’s happened to. One’s too many,” he said.

The Senator faced backlash from Democratic Senator Vivian Davis Figures, who said the decision to take puberty blockers or hormone treatment should like with trans teens and their parents.

“You should at least have the facts and figures to back up what you’re trying to do,” she said.

Trans people in the United States are facing a crackdown on their rights in a number of states in America, where they are being targeted by conservative lawmakers.

A recent study found that transgender youth who are given the necessary treatment have fewer mental health problems.

The bill moves forward less than two months after Pediatrics published a study which found that trans teens who have access to medication experience significantly fewer mental health problems and less suicidal ideation.

Multiple medical associations, including the Endocrine Society, have guidelines recommending doctors offer trans teens pubertal suppression therapy, also known as puberty blockers, which has been a treatment option in the US since 1998.

Puberty blockers delay puberty until a trans teenager is old enough to make decisions about having gender-affirming medical treatment.

“Historically we have known the puberty blockers are safe and effective and this is totally reversible, so the benefits far outweigh any risk. It is sort of a no-brainer to make these available in these circumstances,” said Dr Michelle Forcier, an associate professor of paediatrics at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, who was not part of the study.

Forcier added that nobody would deny a child with asthma their inhaler, or refuse cancer treatment for a child with cancer, yet some parents still express reservations about puberty blockers.

She said she wanted to remind parents that pausing puberty is a “life-saving option”.

“By not allowing their child to use these drugs, that is not a neutral option,” said Forcier.

“This is why this paper is so important. This access is associative into adulthood and is important for safety. We know that access can offer protective effects. This is something that will help a parent keep their child safe.”

 

 

More: alabama, hormone therapy, puberty blockers, Senate, Shay Shelnutt, teenagers, Transgender

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