House committee advances treatment ban for trans kids

House committee advances treatment ban for trans kids

By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Transgender youth in Alabama would not be able to be treated with puberty-blockers, hormone treatment or surgery under a bill advanced Tuesday by a legislative committee that is nearing final approval in the Alabama Legislature.

A divided House Health Committee advanced the bill, which would make it a felony to use puberty-blocking drugs, hormonal therapy and surgery to treat transgender minors. The legislation already cleared the Alabama Senate and now moves to the full House.

“The bottom line is we have a responsibility to protect Alabama’s children. Minors are not mentally capable to make a decision of this caliber,” bill sponsor Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R- Trussville, told committee members.

The measure drew pushback from some lawmakers in both parties who expressed concern about lawmakers inserting themselves into medical and parental decisions.

“What this bill in my opinion does is take all of here in this room and puts us in the middle of that doctor’s office and tells those parents, ‘they don’t know their children. They don’t love their children, they don’t know what is best for their children,'” said Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham.

Republican Joe Lovvorn said he was concerned about taking away tools from parents and noted the suicide rates among kids with gender dysphoria. Lovvorn, a longtime firefighter, described the heartbreak of responding to suicides and suicide attempts as a first responder, including one where he learned the teen had struggled to get help for gender identity issues.

“We’re taking too many tools from the tool chest of a parent, a responsible parent who is trying to figure all of this out … I feel that we could add to that teenage suicide rate unfortunately if we take away too many of those tool kits for parents to use to keep their kids moving forward,” Lovvorn said.