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Alabama law banning medical care for trans youth goes into effect – a first in US history

Alabama’s ban on medical care for trans youth went into effect May 8, making it the first U.S. state to have a law on the books criminalizing gender-affirming treatment for minors.

Senate Bill 184 makes it a crime for doctors or other medical professionals to administer drugs like puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to young people under the age of 19. Signed into law by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on April 8, the bill was expected to become law in 30 days unless a court issues an order preventing it from becoming official policy.

Although civil rights groups lobbied for a court order barring SB 184, the Alabama judge handling the application did not issue a ruling by Sunday’s deadline.

Judge Liles Burke urged patience as he weighed the facts of the case, after supporters and opponents of SB 184 testified in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama last week. According to the local news site AL.comBurke said the three-day hearing presented a “complicated case that raises complex and important issues and consists of several hundred pages of briefing and exhibits.”

“The Court has made very substantial progress in developing an opinion on this case and expects to file the opinion by the end of this week, if not sooner,” he said in a statement. .

“The state offers a large-scale experience. All transgender youth in Alabama with gender dysphoria should be guinea pigs.

Trans-affirming medical providers argued last week that stopping medical care for young people already receiving treatment for gender dysphoria could be extremely dangerous; even fatal. Linda Hawkins, co-founder of the Gender and Sexuality Development Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, compared the effects of SB 184 to “removing someone from cancer treatment and expecting may he be well” in comments quoted by the Associated Press.

The law could also have serious consequences for medical providers, who face up to 10 years in prison for prescribing treatments that, in many cases, save lives.

Dr. Armand Antommaria, director of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Ethics Center, testified in court that SB 184 places healthcare workers in the “untenable position of violating the ethical obligation to patients of comply with the law or fulfill their professional obligations to their patients and be criminally charged,” as the Alabama newspaper Advertiser Montgomery reports.

Jeffrey Doss, the attorney representing doctors and families of trans youth challenging SB 184, claimed the law “overrides parental judgment and replaces it with state judgment.”

“It’s an untested proposition,” Doss told the courtroom last week during closing arguments. “The state offers a large-scale experience. All transgender youth in Alabama with gender dysphoria should be guinea pigs.

Alabama state attorneys defending the law called gender-affirming treatments for trans minors “unproven and sterilizing” in their defense. Witnesses who spoke out in favor of SB 184 included a Georgia woman who regrets the testosterone therapy she sought at age 19 and a Toronto psychiatrist who treats trans adults, but opponents of the ban have noted that none of their testimony related to the scope of the law.

Twenty-three major US medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), have petitioned the Alabama District Court to ban SB 184.

Although Alabama isn’t the first US state to sign legislation targeting medical care for trans youth, Arkansas’ legislation never got a chance to go into effect. After Republican lawmakers forced House Bill 1570 through the House last year, despite Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto, a court temporarily blocked the law as LGBTQ2S+ advocacy groups filed a lawsuit over the ‘to cancel. HB 1570 was to become official policy 90 days after the state legislature closes for the 2021 session.

Arkansas’ ban on medical care for trans youth is more modest in scope than Alabama’s law. While HB 1570 bans both drugs and surgery for gender dysphoria, it stops short of jailing health care providers who don’t follow the order.

A record 167 bills targeting trans people were introduced in the United States this year, the majority of which target medical treatment and participation in sports activities for children. No other state has signed an Alabama-style ban on trans healthcare, but at least six have enacted legislation limiting trans student-athletes’ ability to play school sports in alignment with their lived gender.

Several studies have challenged the reasoning behind bans on medical care for young people, which often claim that most trans youth grow up from early feelings of gender dysphoria. Results published last week in the journal Pediatrics reported that 94% of participating trans youth still identified as trans five years after researchers began observing them. Another 3.5% of young people identified as non-binary, meaning that only 2.5% of young people subsequently aligned with a cisgender identity.

A report by experts from Yale and the University of Texas Southwestern, meanwhile, found that the Alabama ban was based on widespread misinformation and false and outdated data regarding the health care of trans youth.

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