Alabama’s Senate passed a bill last week that could make it the first state in the U.S. to ban gender-change therapy for children.
The bill, known as the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, would establish criminal penalties for doctors who prescribe drugs “intended to alter the minor child's gender or delay puberty.” It also would ban gender-change surgeries on minors and prohibit schools from withholding information to parents if a child perceives “his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor's sex.”
The bill passed the state Senate, 22-3, and now moves to the House of Representatives. South Dakota’s House passed a similar bill earlier this year, although it subsequently was killed by a Senate committee.
Alabama state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, a Republican, said the bill is needed.
“I just don’t think and others don’t think that kids should be given experimental drugs or surgeries that could have irreversible consequences for the rest of their life,” Shelnutt said, according to AL.com. “Kids are not fully developed until later in life. I think we can all agree that kids aren’t capable of making certain decisions until certain ages. And so, we want to just stop these procedures from happening in Alabama.”
The bill says the “long-term effects and safety” of “puberty-blocking medications” and “cross sex hormones” to children has “not been rigorously studied.”
Further, the bill says, many children who identify as transgender change their mind about gender as they mature.
“Studies have shown that a substantial majority of 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,” the bill asserts.
There is no “psychological or medical test” that can differentiate “between the majority of children who will desist from their gender incongruence and the minority who will not,” the bill adds before noting that “research suggests that the administration of puberty-blocking medications or cross-sex hormones forecloses the possibility of a natural recovery from this condition.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.