Explainer: What do Alabama’s new laws say on transgender children?

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has become the first state to criminalize the use of puberty inhibitors and hormones to treat transgender people under the age of 19. In line with some other Republican-led states, legislators here also passed a law requiring students to use bathrooms according to their gender at birth and prohibiting discussion of gender and sexual identity in lower grades. Critics have ridiculed the extent of discussions such as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Two GOP bills were signed into law Friday by Republican Gov. Ivey, a day after they were passed by the Alabama Legislature. Advocacy groups quickly filed a lawsuit on Monday challenging the drug ban.

Republicans argue that bills are needed to protect children and that decisions on gender-affirming drugs should wait until adulthood. Critics say politicians are interfering in medical decisions that concern families and their doctors. Katherine Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, called the two pieces of legislation “the most anti-transgender legislative package in history.”

What does treatment restriction do?

Titled the “Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” the law makes it an offense to prescribe or administer puberty inhibitors or hormone treatments to anyone under 19 “to alter or confirm a minor’s belief about him or her.” on purpose”. His gender or gender.”

Legislators made it a Class C felony for violating the law, meaning doctors who prescribe or administer such a drug would face up to 10 years in prison.

The law, which goes into effect on May 8, unless blocked by courts, also bans surgery aimed at changing the appearance of the penis, but doctors say is not usually performed on minors. .

Alabama’s law goes beyond measures passed in other states. Arkansas was the first state to ban gender-affirming drugs, but its measure did not include criminal penalties. The Arkansas law was blocked by a federal judge before it took effect. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate child abuse reports of youth receiving such care.

What are criticisms?

Doctors, families and advocacy organizations say politicians are involving themselves in decisions that pertain to families and medical teams. The measures have drawn a swift response from medical experts, the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden, the US Department of Justice and the families of trans youth. Doctors say Alabama law contradicts peer-reviewed research and applies a criminal label to standard medical care. Health experts also say that minors with gender dysphoria who do not receive proper medical care are at a dramatically increased risk of suicide and severe depression.

Does the law do anything else?

Yes. The law requires counselors, teachers, principals and other administrators – in both public and private schools – to tell parents if a child discloses that they think they may be transgender. It also prohibits school staff from encouraging students to withhold information from their parents.

What does the bathroom/ “don’t say gay” law do?

The second part of the law signed by Ivey covers public school bathroom use and classroom instruction.

The law requires students in grades K-12 to use multi-person bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender at birth rather than their gender identity. It also prohibits teachers and others who consider K-5 grades to be “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students according to state standards” from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity.

Critics have labeled a similar measure passed in Florida that applies to the “Don’t Say Gay” law on grades K-3.

what happens next?

Opponents of the drug ban who filed suit are hopeful that a judge will grant their request to block it. A legal challenge is also expected to be filed against the bathroom and classroom-instruction measures.

The US Justice Department sent a letter to states warning that efforts to block transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming care may violate federal law and constitutional protections.

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