The Alabama state Senate passed a bill this week that would ban hormone therapy, puberty blockers and gender-reassignment surgeries for children and young adults under age 19.
The legislation, titled the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, passed the chamber in a 23-4 vote on Tuesday and will now go to the state House of Representatives for approval.
If it clears the lower chamber, violators could be subject to up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $15,000, according to CBS News.
School staff also would be required to notify parents immediately of “a minor’s perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex,” the bill said.
“Children aren’t mature enough to make these decisions on surgeries and drugs,” said Republican state Sen. Shay Shelnutt in a statement. “The whole point is to protect kids.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama vowed to challenge the bill in court if it passes the state House, claiming it “runs counter to medical science, prevailing standards of treatment for transgender youth, and basic human dignity.”
But Shelnutt, who sponsored the bill, argued its entire purpose is to preserve the dignity of young children who should not be making “life-altering decisions” that they cannot take back.
“The primary concern here is the health and well-being of Alabama’s children,” he said.
“We must protect vulnerable minors who do not have the mental capacity to make life-altering decisions of this caliber,” he continued. “The efficacy and effects of these particular surgeries and methods of treatment are not well-sustained by medical evidence, and actions of this severity cannot be undone.”
Alabama is one of dozens of states scrambling to take up legislation that would implement safeguards for minors and address other concerns in the debate over gender-identity “rights.”
A Minnesota Republican introduced a bill this week that would ban transgenders from competing on women’s sports teams and entering female-only communal spaces, such as women’s restrooms.
And Republicans in the Mississippi state Senate passed a bill last week that would, similarly, ban transgender athletes from competing in girls’ or women’s sports at state schools and universities.
Nationally, House Democrats are hoping to pass the so-called ‘Equality’ Act, which would grant blanket access on the basis of gender identity as a civil right, likely resulting in a Supreme Court showdown.