Life

Alabama Lawmakers Want to Ban Transgender Treatment for Minors

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The Alabama state Senate passed a bill this week to prevent doctors from providing transgender treatment for children.

If some Alabama lawmakers have their say, doctors would face a felony charge if they provide transgender treatment to anyone under age 18. Violators could face up to 10 years in prison or a $15,000 fine. 

The bill passed the state’s Senate Tuesday 23-4. State representatives will now have to debate the merits of the bill. But the state’s House already approved a companion bill.

When it comes to issues about gender, I suppose I’m very lucky. I was born male. I identify as male. While all men have what people sometimes jokingly call a “feminine side,” I don’t feel any uncertainty about my gender.

Others can’t say that. While someone like me can try to imagine, I can’t fully grasp what they go through. If you’re not transgender, you can’t either.

But I can understand why critics feel there’s very little compassion in the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.”

The Advocate phrases its headline this way: “Alabama Senate Votes to Ban Gender-Affirming Care for Minors.”

For trans youth who are already likely facing a lot of ridicule and feeling a great deal of isolation and stress, this bill would remove a path to assistance. That path, of course, is medical treatment designed to help them achieve characteristics of the gender into which they identify.

To put it another way, they might turn to a doctor to help them achieve affirmation of their gender identity.

I can’t understand the eagerness over a bill like this.

Republican Sen. Shay Shelnutt, who introduced the bill, told the Associated Press the “whole point is to protect kids.”

“Children aren’t mature enough to make these decisions on surgeries and drugs,” he said.

I don’t fully comprehend it. But then, you see, that’s the very point people should consider.

Most of us — those of us who identify with the gender into which we were born — have spent zero time contemplating gender. It never felt like something I needed to think about, any more than I ever needed to contemplate my eye color.

I suspect — and would be willing to wager — the average trans youth has spent infinitely more time contemplating gender issues that most of us could have.

It’s not my business, and it shouldn’t be anyone else’s, whether a youth identifies as the “right” or “wrong” gender. We’re learning, much to the chagrin of far too many people, that mentally, gender identity doesn’t always match biological birth gender.

But wait: there’s more!

CBS News reports that the bill would also require school staff to alert parents that their child’s “perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex.”

“Essentially, teachers would be required to ‘out’ transgender students to their guardians — regardless of whether they are ready to do so,” the report states.

At that point, I think it should be up to the family — the parents and the child — along with their physician to decide how to proceed. But the bill would tie parents’ hands. Even with parental consent, doctors can’t provide transgender treatment.

To top it off, the sponsor of the bill rejected an amendment to clarify that counseling for the youth should continue. He wants the youth to get counseling…as long as it doesn’t affirm that their gender identity doesn’t match their birth gender.

Is this really the most important crisis Alabama faces these days? It’s just mind-boggling to me.

2 Comments

  1. There are those who don’t want to recognize that transgender people actually exist. While they admit that there are adults who “decide” that they’d like to change genders (as if there are only two of them, in the first place), and that such a decision could be tolerated (to a point), they don’t believe that a child would be capable of making a “decision” about their own genders. That is a fallacy (or, even a “phallacy” – as a penis is so very important, ya know).

    Transgender people DO exist, and most of them were aware of their own existence in childhood. No amount of denial by others will change that. From my own experience, I can tell you that no amount of self-denial was enough to change myself, either. What’s disgusting about this legislation is that there are ways to help these kids, but they will no longer have access to them. As difficult as it was for me, growing up with the thought that there was no help at all, I can’t imagine how a transgender child could cope with knowing there was help, but was being denied access to it. Sadly, I think the already-high suicide rate for transgender children will only increase through this ill-informed legislation.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.