ACLU, Lambda Legal Respond to Failure of Alabama Bill Criminalizing Health Care for Trans Youth

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - May 18, 2021 - The Alabama Legislature concluded its regular session for 2021 last night without advancing Senate Bill 10, which would have criminalized health care for transgender youth. Late last month, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, and Lambda Legal had vowed to challenge the law if the bill had been passed and signed by Governor Kay Ivey.

"This important victory is the result of trans people and their families mobilizing to defend this life-saving medical care in Alabama and around the country," said Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU's LGBTQ & HIV Project. "No one, particularly no young person, should have to fight this hard to stay alive. Our work is not over in Alabama or around the country, and if this bill comes returns we will continue to fight with trans youth, their families, and their doctors."

"In the end, the proponents of SB 1o did not see their effort to tear life-saving health care away from transgender young people come to fruition, but they did hurt them in ways they will never understand," said Avatara Smith-Carrington, Lambda Legal attorney, and Tyron Garner Memorial Law Fellow. "Trans youth in Alabama and all over the country know and understand that many of their legislators will go to great lengths to deny their humanity and take away the few lifelines and sources of support that they have. For now, we breathe a sigh of relief that these efforts did not materialize in Alabama, but their medical providers, teachers, and the people who love and support them, have the difficult job of picking up the pieces. Gender-affirming care saves lives and we will not rest until every transgender person has access to the health care that they need and deserve."

"While the Alabama Legislature avoided passing this poorly designed bill, and we should all celebrate this victory for transgender people, for human rights, and for the state of Alabama, we know that this is not the last attack we will see on the transgender community. We cannot become complacent," said Kaitlin Welborn, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. "But no matter what lawmakers in Alabama try, transgender people belong and we will always fight to make sure their rights are protected, the same as everyone else's."

Senate Bill 10 and its companion bill, House Bill 1, would have criminalized doctors and medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth under 19 years, and would have carried severe criminal penalties that would have resulted in fines and even required jail time. The bills were so broad that they could have been interpreted to include criminal penalties for parents and guardians who support transgender young people as well.

Medical organizations and doctors have consistently opposed these bills. Studies consistently show that transgender children who receive gender-affirming care such as puberty-delaying medication, hormones, or both when they are young have better mental health outcomes and report fewer cases of depression, self-harm, and suicide, or attempted suicide.

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