Celeste McGovern writes from Nova Scotia, Canada.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Doctors who perform genital-mutilating surgeries or prescribe off-label puberty-blocking drugs or cross-sex hormones to minors for “transgender therapy” in the state of Alabama may face up to 10 years in prison or a $15,000 fine, according to a bill that passed the state Senate last week.
Bill SB10, the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, sponsored by state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, sailed through the Senate by a 23-4 vote. It will now move to the Alabama House of Representatives, where a committee has already approved almost identical legislation.
It’s a bill to protect children because children aren’t mature enough to make that kind of long term decision about changing their sex,” Shelnutt told the Register.
“The majority of these kids who go through this gender dysphoria grow out of it,” he added, “so why would you recommend a drug or surgery that’s irreversible or can have harmful consequences? It’s just kind of common sense, but sometimes common sense just doesn’t happen. It’s kind of silly that you have to legislate this sort of thing.”
The bill also requires school staff in Alabama to disclose to parents if their students have a gender identity disorder.
The bill met with criticism from the Alabama ACLU chapter and a handful of protesters gathered outside of the state legislature on the day it passed.
It is one of a handful of similar bills to ban health-care providers from prescribing gender-reassignment drugs and surgeries that were introduced in 2019 and 2020 in some states, including Oklahoma, South Carolina and Colorado. Similar bills in Florida and North Dakota died there last year but Shelnutt said he is optimistic about his bill being passed.
Passage of the bill reflects a larger pushback from states against Joe Biden’s transgender agenda that has been high on his administration’s priority list. Within hours of taking office, Biden signed an executive order allowing men and women to take part in sports and to use restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with how they “identify,” rather than according to their biology.
On his sixth day in office, Biden lifted a ban on people who identify as transgender serving in the military. On Day 10, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced he was raising “pride” flags at U.S. embassies around the world.
On Day 15, the White House issued a Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World that threatens to use “the full range of diplomatic assistance tools” including financial sanctions and visa restrictions against countries where restrictions mean a “climate of intolerance” for transsexuals.
While a segment of U.S. society has celebrated Biden’s “LGBTQI” consciousness as a “rights” victory, the focus from the rest of the country has been the top-down imposition of gender ideology and the effect on sports if girls and women are forced to compete against athletes who were born male.
Legislators have introduced a litany of bills like Mississippi’s bill to ban transgender athletes from opposite-sex sports, which was approved in the House on Mar. 3. Senate Bill 2536 passed by a vote of 81-28. The Mississippi Senate approved the measure in February by a vote of 34-9, so the bill now heads to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves for approval. And on Monday South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said she would sign a bill limiting female teams and sports at public schools to students who are biologically female after the bill passed the South Dakota Senate 20-15.
Gov. Reeves, who said in a Facebook post last month that he said he was disappointed in Biden’s actions to force young girls like his daughters to compete with biological males for access to athletics, is expected to sign the bill.
Lawyers were in a U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal last week arguing against federal mandates that would violate conscience rights and force hospitals and doctors to perform gender-transition surgeries, including on minors, against their religious beliefs.
Sen. Paul’s Warnings
The effects of medicines and surgical treatments on thousands of U.S. children who are adrift in a culture of gender ambiguity was largely lost in the transgender wars this year until Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., put the issue of puberty blockers and genital mutilating transgender sex-change surgeries center-stage with his well-publicized grilling at a confirmation hearing of Biden’s nominee for assistant health secretary, Rachel Levine, a biological man who considers himself a woman.
“Dr. Levine, you have supported both allowing minors to be given hormone blockers to prevent them from going through puberty, as well as surgical destruction of a minor’s genitalia,” Paul said. “Do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?”
Levine repeatedly evaded Paul’s question, stating that transgender medicine is a “very complex and nuanced field.”
“What I am alarmed at is that you’re not willing to say that, absolutely, minors shouldn’t be making decisions to amputate their breasts or amputate their genitalia … or to take hormones that will affect them for the rest of their life,” Paul said.
The Kentucky senator also pointed out that the drugs given to children for altering their sexuality are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for that purpose. “I find it ironic that the left that went nuts over hydroxychloroquine being used possibly for COVID, are not alarmed at these drugs being used off-label,” he said.
Criticism from Democrats and the media to Paul’s questions was immediate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said at a separate online press briefing that Republican “attacks on trans people and the transgender community are just mean, mean, and show a complete lack of understanding and a complete lack of empathy.”
“They don’t represent our views, and they don’t represent the views of a majority of Americans,” he added. “Their despicable comments just make my blood boil with anger. If I didn’t have a mask, you could see my teeth gritting.”
MSN “fact-checked” Paul, saying that “most medical professionals disagree” with him and quoted Dr. Jason Rafferty, author of the American Association of Pediatricians’ policy statement on transgender and gender diverse youth health care who said that transgender surgery on minors was not genital mutilation because “The outcome is trying to better align [a trans young person’s] body with their sense of self rather than a process that causes [an] ongoing sense of distress and harm throughout their lives.”
NBC quoted Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who said Paul’s language was “hurtful to Levine and all the trans people watching her hearing.”
The Washington Post, meanwhile, accused Paul of “falsely asserting that puberty blockers can cause irrevocable changes.”
There is a substantial body of evidence about the negative short-term effects such drugs can have.
The drugs, normally prescribed for prostate cancer and uterine pain and less often to counter premature puberty, sharply decrease hormones related to sexual development and have been linked to side-effects ranging from brittle bones, joint pain, and blood disorders to mental health issues including depression, impaired memory, and lowered IQ. One 2016 study found that girls treated with puberty blockers had an eight-point lower IQ score than controls who did not receive the treatment.
Shelnutt said optometrists in the state of Alabama have been advised to watch for side-effects of the drugs which can alter vision.
There is very little research into the long-term effects of puberty-blocking drugs. One 2018 study of long-term risks of puberty blockers from researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital found that while side effects of the drugs are “advertised to resolve three-six months after stopping treatment,” in actuality, “the majority of subjects reported long-term side effects … while almost one-third reported irreversible side effects that persisted for years after discontinuing treatment.”
Some media expressed disbelief at Paul’s accusation that transgender drugs are even given to children. However, one of the leading specialists in the field of transgender medicine is Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, who received at least $5.7 million from the National Institutes for Health to study the “impact of early medical treatment on transgender youth.”
The study was altered to lower the minimum age of treatment from 13 to 8 years so that children as young as 8 could receive not just hormone blockers but potent doses of irreversible “cross-sex hormones” testosterone and estrogen.
In December, the United Kingdom’s High Court ruled in favor of a young woman, Keira Bell, who said she was treated as a “guinea pig” at a gender-identity clinic for children and that she regrets the “devastating experiment” of taking the puberty-blocking drugs that led to more potent cross-sex hormones and then a double mastectomy at age 20.
Like the Alabama Senate bill, the U.K. court ruled that it is unlikely that children under 16 are able to grasp the “long-term risks and consequences” and give informed consent to risky medical interventions that may lead down a one-way path to drastic sex-change surgeries.
Social media platforms are rife with complaints from transgender youths who have been put on hormone treatments as part of “transgender therapy. A recent Reddit post on a page called Asktransgender says, “I just got diagnosed with osteopenia at age 24. This is the direct result of the incompetence of at least 3 endocrinologists in my city who never knew how to raise my [estrogen] levels properly and simply never cared.”
“Literally every [sic] adults but also doctors in my life failed and neglected me, and I now have to suffer the consequences of it,” the entry said, “having to deal with the bone density/quality of a postmenopausal elderly woman before I could even reach my mid-20s, adding to the crippling mental illnesses.”