Alabama this week joined a growing wave of states resisting medical experimentation on gender-dysphoric children. In recent months, lawmakers in Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and West Virginia have introduced measures making it a criminal offense to subject minors to hormone therapy and sex-change surgery.
Earlier this month, a South Dakota bill cleared a legislative committee, but a state Senate health committee later killed it with a 5-2 vote.
Alabama’s bill, which Republican Rep. Wes Allen introduced on Thursday, would make it a Class C felony for physicians, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse practitioners to perform sex-change procedures, including castrations and mastectomies, on anyone younger than 18. It would also criminalize giving puberty-blocking medication or cross-sex hormones to children or teens who identify as the opposite sex unless they have a medically verified genetic sexual development disorder. A nurse, counselor, teacher, principal, or school administrator at a public or private school could face misdemeanor charges for hiding a child’s transgender identity from his or her parents.
“The bottom line is, we want to protect children,” Allen said. “We don’t think that children are mentally mature enough to make decisions about their body that have long-term, irreversible ramifications.”
Becky Gerritson, executive director of Eagle Forum of Alabama, said a grassroots coalition of doctors, nurse practitioners, counselors, parents, and pastors helped draft the bill: “This is going to take normal, common-sense people who are willing to stand up and look at science and how our bodies are made.”
Critics say puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex-change surgeries help individuals with gender dysphoria feel more comfortable in their bodies and mitigate suicide risk. Nearly 35 percent of high school students who identify as transgender reported they had attempted suicide, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gerritson said parents are “bullied into thinking that if they don’t pursue these interventions their child will die.” But only 6 percent of boys and 12 percent of girls who identify as the opposite sex remain confused about their gender in adulthood, according to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. One 2012 study found individuals who undergo sex-change surgeries attempt suicide at a rate 20 times higher than that of comparable peers.
Meanwhile, many medical professionals warn hormones and surgery do not deal with the underlying mental health conditions leading to suicide attempts. Instead, children taking puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or undergoing sex-change surgeries can face severe bone loss, memory impairment, sexual dysfunction, sterility, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.
Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, noted that the puberty-blocking drug Lupron “effectively castrates” both boys and girls, stunting their brain and bone development. “Even if a child comes off blockers, we can never give back the period of normal physical [and] psychosocial development that was stolen from them,” she told Breitbart News.