KIM CHANDLER

Montgomery, Alabama (AP) – Ninth-grader Harley Walker, 15, spends time after school, like many girls her age: doing homework, listening to Taylor Swift, collecting recordings and hanging out with friends.

But this year, her spring break also included trying to persuade members of the House of Representatives and the state Senate to reject legislation banning gender-claiming drugs for transgender people like her under 19.

She was unsuccessful. Alabama lawmakers on Thursday took the measure, and Gov. Kay Ivey signed it on Friday, meaning Dr. Harley faces jail time if she continues to prescribe testosterone-blocking drugs.

“Honestly, I’m a little scared now,” Harley said Thursday, learning the bill was passed. “But we will still fight no matter what.”

She said she hoped the bill would be blocked by a court.

Alabama is one of many states with Republican-controlled legislatures that pass advanced bills not only to block treatment but also to ban transgender children from using school restrooms or playing sports teams that do not match their gender at birth. The Alabama drug bill is one of the largest: it will put doctors in jail for up to 10 years for prescribing puberty blockers or hormonal treatments to trans children under 19.

“I firmly believe that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you’re a boy, and if He made you a girl, you’re a girl,” said Ivy, who faces May primaries with conservative opponents trying to get her off the flank. her right. “We need to especially protect our children from these radical life-changing drugs and surgeries when they are at such a vulnerable stage of life. Instead, let us all focus on helping them become adults as God intended them to be. ”

Ivy also signed a separate measure requiring students to use bathrooms that match their original birth certificate, and banning the teaching of gender and sexual identity in kindergarten until fifth grade.

Catherine Oakley, the state’s legislative director and senior adviser to the campaign for human rights, the national advocacy group of the LGBTQ community, called the new laws “stunningly harsh and timid” and “the most legislative package against transgender people in history.” The group on Friday promised to file a lawsuit to challenge the measures in court soon.

Oakley and other opponents say the health of transgender people is being used as a deliberate political issue to motivate the electoral base – in the same way, they say, bills on critical race theory have been used. Critical racial theory is a way of thinking about American history through the prism of racism. Many Republican-controlled legislatures have proposed bills that would block his teaching in public schools.

These measures provoked a quick reaction from medical experts, the administration of Presidential Democratic Party Joe Biden, the US Department of Justice and the families of trans-youth. Last month, the Department of Justice sent a letter to all 50 state attorneys general, warning them that blocking transgender and non-binary youth from providing gender-sensitive assistance could be a violation of federal constitutional protection.

“My child is not a political tool. It’s an unfair fight against vulnerable children, ”said Vanessa Feeney Tate, mother of a 13-year-old trans boy in Birmingham, Alabama, after testifying at a public legislative hearing on a bill banning students from using bathrooms. corresponding to their gender.

Harley’s father, Jeff Walker, notes that many of the same Alabama lawmakers who backed a ban on sex-confirming treatment recently argued, “It’s your body and your choice” regarding coronavirus vaccination. He said the family is now trying to find another state where it can continue to care for Harley.

“We just don’t want people to interfere with our health care,” he said.

Medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have publicly opposed efforts outside the law that affirm gender.

“Gender support promotes the health and psychological functioning of transgender people and young people of different genders,” the Endocrine Society said in a statement. “If a person’s gender identity is not respected and they cannot get medical care, it can lead to higher psychological problems and can increase the risk of suicide or other acts of self-harm.”

The organization notes that younger adolescents are only recommended reversible blockers of puberty, while older adolescents may be eligible for hormone therapy.

Harley received medication – which prevents her from going through male puberty – only after consulting with a team of doctors for years. She said it was “strange” to see lawmakers without medical experience call her drugs “child abuse” when six doctors agreed she should take them.

Angus, a 16-year-old trans teen who asked not to use his last name because of the bullying he received in his city in northern Alabama, said that during puberty he knew that the mirror reflected “a body that was not mine own ”.

Going out to his mother, he began to slowly taste the water: dressed like a man, changed his name. Only after years of talking to a team of doctors, he was recently able to get medication to stop menstruation. The next step he wants to start will be a small dose of testosterone.

“I waited seven years to finally become the person, the person I’ve always been,” Angus said.

He said bills to block such treatment are harmful, not protect trans-youth.

“The government says, ‘Oh, parents are abusing their children by allowing them to move,'” he said. “In fact, it’s tougher to treat children to prevent them from moving when they go out. What these bills are really doing is risking the lives of trans youth because the suicide rate will rise exponentially. And many families will lose their children. “

Similar bans apply in other states.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the state-run Child Protection Agency to investigate allegations of child abuse. And Arkansas law prohibits sex-proof drugs. However, this law was blocked by the court.

Trans-youth in many red states say they feel attacked, angry, betrayed and intimidated by a wave of legislation aimed at them.

“It’s like a blow to the back,” Harley said. “I have lived in this state all my life. To just say, “Well, you know what, this is a problem that’s very popular on my part, so I’m just going to raise it and support it because it will help me win the election” – It just hurts to see how they do it. “

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