A bill that advanced in the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday would prevent trans young people in the state from accessing puberty-blockers and hormone treatment by making it a felony to prescribe these medications to anyone under 19. The legislation would also ban gender-affirming surgery, although the pediatrician responsible for leading a program for trans youth at the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital says that gender-affirming surgeries are never done on minors in the state.
Although the bill was passed 23-4 in the Republican-controlled Alabama Senate and advanced in the Alabama House Health Committee, legislators in the committee from both parties expressed concerns that the law was overstepping by inserting the government into medical and familial decisions. “What this bill in my opinion does is take all of here in this room and puts us in the middle of that doctor’s office and tells those parents, ‘they don’t know their children. They don’t love their children, they don’t know what is best for their children,’” said Democratic Rep. Neil Rafferty.
Republican Rep. Joe Lovvorn, a longtime firefighter, described a time when he arrived at a suicide attempt as a first responder and learned that the teenager had struggled to find support when it came to their gender identity. “We’re taking too many tools from the tool chest of a parent, a responsible parent who is trying to figure all of this out,” Lovvorn said. “I feel that we could add to that teenage suicide rate unfortunately if we take away too many of those tool kits for parents to use to keep their kids moving forward.”
Lovvorn isn’t wrong. A national study found that 40% of trans adults reported having made a suicide attempt—and 92% of them reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.