Providing Gender-Affirming Care to Trans Youth in this State is Now a Felony

An Alabama law has now criminalized gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary youth.

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Recently, the state of Alabama passed a ban that would functionally eliminate gender-affirming care for trans youth in the state — and as of May 8, 2022, it has become law. The latest anti-trans legislation signed by Governor Kay Ivey makes providing gender-affirming services to trans youth a felony crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Here’s what you need to know.

The legislation banning care for trans youth was signed by Governor Ivey on April 8th and was immediately challenged by doctors and LGBTQIA+ advocacy organizations. A lawsuit was launched on behalf of two families with transgender teens and two physicians. The lawsuit argued the ban would cause “immediate and irreparable” damage and that the legislation violates the constitutional rights of not only the trans teens but their doctors.

An injunction was filed in an attempt to stop the legislation from going into effect while the lawsuit was still ongoing. However, after a two-day hearing brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign – the anti-trans legislation took effect on May 8, 2022, banning gender-affirming care for trans youth under 19 when the District Judge, Liles Burke, did not rule on the preliminary injunction before the law took effect.

So now the law is in effect. The effects of the law, if it remains in place, cannot be understated. Trans youth who have already medically transitioned or begun transitioning may be forced to detransition in front of their peers, and amid a mental health crisis among trans youth, the law flies against all accepted medical standards for trans youth that show that gender-affirming health care saves lives.

Last month, the Justice Department joined the lawsuit naming Governor Ivey, two district attorneys, and the Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall as defendants. Their complaint states the new law in Alabama “denies necessary medical care to children based solely on who they are.”

The Justice Department’s statement is in line with Dr. Morissa J. Ladinsky, one of the doctors involved in the lawsuit who says Governor Ivey “has undermined the health and well-being of Alabama children and put doctors like me in the horrifying position of choosing between ignoring the medical needs of our patients or risking being sent to prison.”

Alabama joins other states that have pushed to pass anti-trans laws for youth seeking care including Florida, Texas, and Arkansas. In total, there are currently 25 states that have some type of anti-trans legislation working its way through the court systems.

Gender-affirming care for trans and non-binary youth is evidence-based care and is supported and backed up by major medical organizations including the Pediatric Endocrine Society, American Medical Association, and American Psychological Association.