The Alabama legislature is advancing a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to give puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or gender reassignment surgeries to children who consider themselves transgender.
The bill, proposed by Republican state Rep. Wes Allen, will move to the Alabama House Judiciary Committee for a public hearing this week. The Senate Health Committee advanced the bill on Wednesday in a 11-2 vote.
Called the “Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,” the bill argued there is not enough research to show that hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgeries are safe or effective, especially for young children.
“This bill is about protecting vulnerable children. That’s all it’s about,” Republican state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, the sponsor of the bill, told the Senate Health Committee.
“These children are not of age and don’t have the mental capacity to make decisions that are being made for them, quite frankly, right now,” Shelnutt said.
The bill says studies have actually shown that “pre-pubescent children who claim a gender identity different from their biological sex will ultimately identify with their biological sex by young adulthood or sooner when supported through their natural puberty.”
Puberty blockers and permanent surgeries could foreclose “the possibility of a natural recovery from this condition,” the bill states.
The bill does grant an exception in cases where children are shown to have “medically verifiable disorder of sex development” and physically need these treatments.
If the bill passed, it would also make it a Class C felony for school employees or administrators to instruct a child not to tell their parents if they are considering becoming transgender. Violators could face up to 10 years in prison.
Alabama is one of eight states considering such measures.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.