Alabama lawmakers mull bill banning gender transition treatments for minors

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 8:17 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A bill now headed to the Alabama Senate floor would charge doctors with a felony if they treat a transgender youth with hormonal therapy, puberty blockers, or if they perform surgery to alter the minor’s appearance.

Proponents of the bill say these are procedures children may not want later in life.

A public hearing Wednesday was attended by opponents of the bill who included a doctor, a priest, and Monroe Smith, an 18-year-old who identifies as a transgender man.

Smith told the committee that he is a “living, breathing example that this healthcare saves lives.”

“I think the misconception is that, at the drop of the hat, I could’ve immediately started this journey,” Smith explained. “The reality is that when I was 13, and with the consent and support of my parents, we began a slow and steady process of communication with myself, parents, doctors, and mental health professionals, all with the purpose that we were informed and ready for the long journey ahead.”

Smith also said it took a lot of support from his parents and medical teams to help him get to where he is today, and that’s the main argument against the bill.

Opponents say the decision for treatment is not one taken lightly and should stay between a doctor, parent, and child. Proponents say it’s about protecting children.

“This is about protecting children because there’s a very high probability that this child will be misdiagnosed and will be entered into an irreversible medical intervention,” said Dr. Patrick Lappert, who spoke during the hearing.

Now UAB Hospital says surgeries are not happening, but bill sponsor Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Birmingham, says this is intended to protect children from hormones and puberty blockers that he says could have life-long consequences.

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