MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Lambda Legal, and Cooley LLP announced today plans to file a legal challenge to proposed legislation in Alabama that, as currently written, would criminalize medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth with up to 10 years in prison. The bills are an effort to block potentially lifesaving health care for transgender young people.
With the legislative session soon coming to a close, SB10 is one of several bills the House is still considering, and if passed would come on the heels of another anti-trans bill, HB391, which Governor Kay Ivey signed into law.
“The Alabama Legislature has been down this road before, wasting taxpayer time and money to pass unconstitutional bills that they know will get taken to court. This year seems to be no different,” said Kaitlin Welborn, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. “Transgender youth have the constitutional right to access necessary healthcare, just like everyone else. If the state tries to take that healthcare away, we'll see them in court.”
“If passed and signed into law, Alabama will have the most deadly, sweeping, and hostile law targeting transgender people in the country,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “Science and medicine are clear: The way to reduce harm to trans youth is to provide them with gender-affirming health care where it is medically indicated. This bill takes that life-saving treatment option off the table and makes it a felony. Moving forward with this bill will be deadly for trans youth, push doctors out of a state that has a shortage of medical providers, hurt Alabama’s economy, and subject the state to costly litigation.”
“If Alabama lawmakers insist on passing this cruel, dangerous, and unconstitutional legislation into law, the state will immediately have a lawsuit to deal with,” said Carl Charles, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. “The Alabama Legislature and Governor Kay Ivey need to consider the time and resources they will invest, not to mention the stain of discrimination that often means lost opportunity and investment and ask themselves if targeting the health care of children is truly worth it because we are prepared to make that investment in order to protect transgender youth, their families, and their doctors, in Alabama.”
“The proposed legislation is unconstitutional in multiple respects, as we will forcefully argue in court,” said Kathleen Hartnett of Cooley LLP.
Two companion bills, House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 10, are pending in the Alabama Legislature. Both bills would criminalize doctors or medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth under 19 years, carrying severe criminal penalties that could result in fines and even require jail time. The bills as drafted are also so broad that they can be read to include criminal penalties for parents and guardians who support transgender young people.
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