Alabama is advancing a bill that would make it a felony to prescribe puberty blockers and other treatment for transgender young people, despite a father's moving testimony about his trans daughter.
The Alabama Senate Health Committee Wednesday approved Senate Bill 10, the so-called Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, by a vote of 11-2, sending it to the full Senate, reports AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on its version of the legislation the same day.
The legislation would bar doctors from administering puberty blockers and other drug treatment, such as hormones, to minors, in addition to banning transition-related surgery for this population. But trans people generally do not undergo genital surgery until they are at least 18, in keeping with accepted medical practices, and the effects of puberty blockers and other drugs are reversible, contrary to the assertions of politicians backing the bills.
The Judiciary Committee heard testimony from people supporting the measure and those opposed to it. Of all who spoke, "none made a stronger impression than a father who said he could not comprehend penalizing the medical professionals who have helped him and his transgender daughter navigate a difficult journey," according to AL.com.
David Fuller, a sergeant with the Gadsden Police Department, is a widower with three children, one of whom came out as a trans female at age 16. "To say I was shocked was an understatement," Fuller said. He and his daughter, however, found help from health care providers at UAB Medicine, which is affiliated with the University of Alabama's Birmingham campus.
"They made us feel like we weren't alone, that we were normal in an abnormal situation and they could help us," Fuller testified. "And they didn't push anything on us. Just the opposite. They reeled us in at every step.
"They made sure it was baby steps. It's been a five-year process now and they haven't pushed anything on us. Just the opposite. And they are angels to me. And as a police officer, you're asking me to someday put handcuffs on these people that are heroes in my life? ... Please don't ask me to do that."
Rep. Wes Allen, sponsor of the House bill, asserted contrary to medical evidence that transition-related drug treatments cause young people's bodies to be "permanently damaged." Dr. Den Trumbull, a Montgomery pediatrician, called such treatments "child abuse" and contended that "gender-confused" youth should undergo mental health treatment that helps them identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. An 80-year-old named Walt Heyer, who once identified as female and underwent gender-confirmation surgery in 1983, expressed regret about doing so.
But Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, associate professor of pediatrics at UAB Medicine, pointed out that such surgery is not performed on minors and that no treatment is undertaken without doctors and patients putting a great deal of thought into it.
"Folks, there are not pediatricians traveling around Alabama just writing hormone prescriptions for minors," she said. Young trans people, she added, "are not mentally ill. They're not jumping on a trend."
The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the bill in two weeks. Similar legislation failed last year in Alabama and several other states, and at least seven other states are considering such measures now.