Trans kids and families hailed heroes after cruel Alabama healthcare ban dies with a whimper

Maggie Baska May 18, 2021
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Rally Alabama anti-trans legislation

People rally at the Alabama State House to draw attention to anti-transgender legislation introduced in Alabama on 30 March 2021. (Photo by Julie Bennett/Getty Images)

A bill that would have made it illegal for medical professionals to provide gender-affirming care to trans youth died on the final night of Alabama’s legislative session without being voted on.

Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), proposed by Republican senator Shay Shelnutt, was scheduled to be voted on Monday evening (17 May). But time ran out on the final regular session before Alabama lawmakers could vote on one of the most controversial, anti-trans bills in the state. As such, SB 10 died on the legislative floor.

The bill would have made it a Class C felony for healthcare professionals in Alabama to provide gender-affirming care and treatments to trans minors. This would include administering hormones or puberty blockers to trans youth as well as banning gender-affirming surgeries for minors.

Under the bill, medical professionals could have faced a 10-year prison sentence or a $15,000 fine for providing needed gender-affirming treatment.

Kaitlin Welborn, an attorney for the ACLU of Alabama, said in a statement to the Montgomery Advertiser that the death of SB 10 should be heralded as a “victory” for the trans community in Alabama. But she warned it will not be the “last attack” against the LGBT+ community in the state.

“While the Alabama Legislature avoided passing this poorly designed bill, and we should all celebrate this victory for transgender people, for human rights, and for the state of Alabama, we know that this is not the last attack we will see on the transgender community,” Welborn said. “We cannot become complacent.”

Even though the bill is dead for this legislative session, the Alabama Political Reporter said any legislation that was not approved by the end of Monday (17 May) could be reintroduced in 2022, which is the next midterm election year.

Other activists celebrated the death of SB 10 on the Alabama legislative floor. Katie Glenn, a policy associate at the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote on Twitter that went to bed “in awe of all the trans youth, activists and families” in Alabama “who worked tirelessly” against the anti-trans bill.

“Trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming kids belong in Alabama,” she wrote. “Can’t wait to build a better AL alongside you.”

Dillon Nettles, director of policy and advocacy for the ACLU of Alabama, also celebrated that “SB10 is dead” on Twitter.

The Alabama Senate passed the anti-trans healthcare bill in early March, but the News Tribune reported it did not get a vote in the state’s House. Shelnutt argued in favour of his bill earlier this year, saying that children “aren’t mature enough to make these decisions on surgeries and drugs”. He added it was “wrong” for trans youth to receive gender-affirming care.

However, Shelnutt also has admitted that he never spoke to a trans youth while preparing the bill and wasn’t even aware such treatments were already happening in Alabama.

Last month, Arkansas passed similar legislation into law, making it the first state to ban gender-affirming care to trans youth. The bill was passed through the state’s House and Senate before it was vetoed by governor Asa Hutchinson. But the legislature overturned Hutchinson’s veto, passing the ban into law.

Related topics: alabama, trans healthcare

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