Trans kids fear Alabama laws targeting medicine and restrooms – Daily News


MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) – Ninth grader Harleigh Walker, 15, spends her time after school like many girls her age: doing homework, listening to Taylor Swift, collecting records and hanging out with friends.

But this year, her spring break also included trying to persuade members of the state House and Senate to reject legislation banning gender-affirming medications for transgender children like her under 19.

She was not successful. On Thursday, Alabama lawmakers passed the measure, and Governor Kay Ivey signed it into law on Friday, meaning Harleigh’s doctor would face jail time if she continued to prescribe her testosterone-blocking drugs.

“Honestly, I’m a little scared right now,” Harleigh said Thursday after learning the project had been approved. “But we will still fight no matter what.”

She said she hopes the project will be blocked by a court.

Alabama is among several states with Republican-controlled legislatures that have introduced bills not only to block medical treatment but also to ban transgender children from using school bathrooms or playing on sports teams that do not match their sex at birth. Alabama’s drug law is one of the most comprehensive: it would put doctors in prison for up to 10 years for prescribing puberty blockers or hormone treatment to transgender children under 19.

“I firmly believe that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl,” said Ivey, who faces a primary in May with conservative opponents trying to overtake him. there. she right. “We must especially protect our children from these life-altering drugs and radical surgery when they are at such a vulnerable stage of life. Instead, let’s all focus on helping them properly develop into the adults God intended them to be.”

Ivey also signed a separate measure that requires students to use restrooms in line with their original birth certificate and prohibits gender and sexual identity instruction in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior adviser for the Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, called the new laws “incredibly cruel and cowardly” and “the most anti-transgender legislative package in history.” On Friday, the groups vowed to quickly file a lawsuit challenging the measures in court.

Oakley and other opponents say that transgender health is being used as a deliberate political issue to motivate an electoral base — just as they say the critical race theory bills were employed. Critical race theory is a way of thinking about American history through the lens of racism. Numerous Republican-controlled legislatures have proposed bills to block their teaching in public schools.

The measures prompted a quick reaction from medical experts, the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden, the US Department of Justice and families of trans youth. Last month, the Justice Department sent a letter to all 50 state attorneys general, warning them that preventing transgender and non-binary youth from receiving gender-affirming care could be a violation of federal constitutional protections.

“My son is not a political tool. This is not a fair fight to provoke vulnerable children,” said Vanessa Finney Tate, mother of a 13-year-old transgender boy in Birmingham, Alabama, after testifying at a legislative public hearing on a bill that would bar students from using restrooms. . corresponding to your gender.

Harleigh’s father Jeff Walker notes that many of the same Alabama lawmakers who supported a ban on gender-affirming medical treatment have recently argued, ‘It’s your body and your choice’ regarding coronavirus vaccines. He said the family is now struggling to find another state where they can continue Harleigh’s medical care.

“We just don’t want people to intrude on our medical care,” he said.

Medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have publicly opposed efforts to ban gender-affirming care.

“Gender-affirming care benefits the health and psychological functioning of transgender and gender-diverse youth,” the Endocrine Society said in a statement. “When an individual’s gender identity is not respected and they cannot access medical care, it can result in higher scores for psychological problems and can increase their risk of committing suicide or other acts of self-harm.”

The organization notes that only reversible puberty blockers are recommended for younger teens, while older teens may qualify for hormone therapy.

Harleigh was given the medication – which prevents her from going through male puberty – only after consulting a team of doctors for years. She said it was “strange” to see lawmakers with no medical experience calling her medication “child abuse” when six doctors agreed she should take it.

Angus, a 16-year-old transgender teenager who asked that his last name not be used because of the bullying he received in his northern Alabama town, said he knew at puberty that the mirror reflected “a body that wasn’t mine.”

After coming out to his mother, he slowly began testing the waters: dressing like a man, changing his name. Only after years of talking to a team of doctors did he recently get medication to stop his period. The next step, which he’s eager to get started, would be a small dose of testosterone.

“I’ve waited seven years to finally become a man, the man I’ve always known I am,” Angus said.

He said bills to block such treatments are harmful, not protecting trans youth.

“The government is saying, ‘Oh, parents are abusing their children by letting them transition,’” he said. “It’s actually more child abuse not letting them transition if they come out. What these laws are really doing is putting trans youth lives at risk because those suicide rates will increase exponentially. And many families will lose their children.”

Similar bans are advancing in other states.

In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott ordered the state’s child welfare agency to investigate reports of abuse of gender-confirmed care for children. And a law in Arkansas prohibits gender-affirming drugs. That law was blocked by a court, however.

Trans youth in many red states say they feel attacked, angry, betrayed and frightened by the wave of legislation aimed at them.

“It feels like a stab in the back,” Harleigh said. “I have lived in this state all my life. For them to just say, ‘Well, you know, that’s an issue that’s very popular on my side of the aisle, so I’m going to stand up and support it because it will help me win my election’ – It just hurts to see them do that. .”

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