5 things to know about Alabama’s transgender medicine law

In April, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill targeting the healthcare of transgender minors. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill soon after.

The law gained national attention as the first to make gender-affirming care for transgender youth a felony for physicians who prescribe it. That portion of the law has been temporarily blocked while a legal challenge makes its way through the courts.

As we introduce readers to some of the young transgender Alabamians affected by such legislation, here’s the latest on where the transgender youth law stands today:

How does the legislation limit healthcare?

The law makes it a Class C felony for doctors to prescribe hormones and puberty blockers to transgender youth. Doctors can face up to 10 years in prison for doing so.

Schools would also be forbidden from withholding information about students’ gender identity from parents.

The law also forbids genital surgeries on transgender youth (circumcisions remain legal). Nationally, such provisions are commonly included in rhetoric about such legislation, however, medical professionals have repeatedly said these surgeries are not performed on minors in Alabama.

‘This place doesn’t want me’:How Alabama’s trans youth are facing anti-LGBTQ legislation

When does the law go into effect?

The law went into effect on May 8. On May 13, U.S. District Judge Liles C. Burke blocked the portion of the law making it a crime for physicians to provide medication and other gender-affirming care to transgender youth; Burke left the remainder of the statute intact.

The state has appealed. New dates have not yet been set for the next stages of legal proceedings.

Transgender medication law in Alabama blocked by judge while court challenge goes forward

How do medical providers feel?

The legal challenge to the law came from four families of transgender youths, two providers and a minister.

The plaintiffs said the law interferes with family medical choices and opens the door for doctors to be criminally prosecuted for following accepted medical practice.

“The healthcare provider plaintiffs, and parents of transgender minors …are forced to choose between withholding medically necessary treatment from their minor transgender patients or children, on the one hand, or facing criminal prosecution on the other,” the lawsuit said. “Moreover, the broad language of the Act imposes content-based restrictions on discussions, counseling, or referrals regarding gender dysphoria treatments…”

Young people can be traumatized by seeing their bodies develop in ways that do not align with their gender, said Dr. Monica Ladinsky, an associate professor of pediatrics at UAB who works with transgender youth, at the hearing for a preliminary injunction on the law.

What are the state’s arguments?

The state has argued that the medical procedures were not safe, based on research from Europe.

The state also repeatedly brought up the possibility of youths “desisting,” or detransitioning.

What are families saying?

Families of transgender youth argue that the law infringes on their ability to make private medical decisions and say it contradicts past Alabama legislators’ decisions regarding parents’ rights.

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