By the Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Two Alabama legislative committees approved a bill Wednesday that would ban gender therapies for minors such as prescription hormones or gender reassignment surgery.
Rep. Wes Allen of Troy and Sen. Shay Shelnutt of Trussville are the sponsors of the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.
Allen said last week that children who struggle with their gender identity should receive mental health counseling and not medications or surgeries that cause physical changes.
The Alabama House Health Committee approved Allen’s bill Wednesday morning, news outlets reported. Later, the Senate Health Committee approved Shelnutt’s bill in a 10-1 vote. Both bills will move on to the full House and full Senate for consideration, respectively.
Under the legislation, doctors would be charged with a felony for prescribing puberty-blockers or hormones to anyone under age 19. Surgeries on minors would also be prohibited. The bill also states teachers, principals and school counselors would be charged with a misdemeanor if they don’t tell parents their child identifies as transgender.
“We understand there are children struggling with gender dysphoria,” Allen said. “We should help those children with therapeutic treatment, not allowing their bodies to be mutilated.”
Proponents of the bill said the current science on gender issues was “unsettling.” The Eagle Forum of Alabama, a conservative advocacy group, said the bill would stop “vulnerable children” from getting medical procedures or medications with uncertain long-term effects.
Opponents of the bill said it is discriminatory and spreads misinformation. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said the bill is “a solution in search of a problem.”
“Anti-trans legislators in Alabama are once again targeting transgender and non-binary youth, spreading misinformation and using vicious, harmful rhetoric to advance an extremist agenda,” Human Rights Campaign Alabama State Director Carmarion D. Anderson said in a statement.
This is the second bill in Alabama targeting transgender issues. Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit public schools from allowing transgender students to participate on sports team that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.