The Alabama Senate Health Committee last week approved a bill that would prohibit controversial medical procedures designed to alter the gender of a child.

Senate Bill 184 is sponsored by Sen. Shay Shelnutt.

Shelnutt said that this is about protecting vulnerable children from medical procedures that would "scar them for life" and does not prevent any adult from having sex change procedures done.

“There are lifelong consequences from these procedures,” Shelnutt said.

According to the synopsis, “This bill would prohibit the performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child, that is intended to alter the appearance of the minor child's gender or delay puberty, with certain exceptions. This bill would provide for the disclosure of certain information concerning students to parents by schools. This bill would also establish criminal penalties for violations.”

There was a short public hearing in the Health Committee.

Dr. Patrick Lappert is a practicing physician who spoke in favor of the bill.

“This bill is about the protection of vulnerable children,” Lappert said.

Lappert explained that this is about misdiagnosing gender dysphoria and then choosing to deal with the issue by prescribing hormone therapies, puberty blockers, and surgeries rather than counseling, saying “80% of them will get over it during puberty.”

“This diagnosis is up 500%,” Lappert said. “When I was in training in the 1990s it was 200th of 1 percent."

Lappert explained that most of these cases used to be boys who identified as girls, but now 60% are girls who want to be boys.

“You have to protect children from misdiagnosis,” Lappert said. “The long-term literature, the best of which is Swedish, show that there is a short-lived benefit. The Swedish database shows that beyond eight or nine years the suicide rate goes back up.

“This is about protecting children from an irreversible medical intervention that will make them sterile and dependent on the medical system for the rest of their lives."

Monroe Smith is a girl who has been altered to be a boy by transgender treatments. “He” is a senior at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

“Not once in this process did I or my family ever feel pressured to engage in the treatments,” Smith said. “It was to facilitate my well-being, and offer me a chance to present to the world as I know myself.”

Dr. Nola Ernest is a pediatrician in Enterprise who joined those who oppose the bill.

Ernest said that given the number of neurons in the brain, “It is statistically impossible that there are only two genders.

“We have a team of gender experts at UAB who have devoted their lives and identities to these treatments. If we do not affirm these patients, those families have a reasonable expectation” that it could lead to suicide...Criminalizing would override science, would override doctors and would override parents' rights. I ask you today to protect the right of parents and families.”

“I am advocating for my daughter (who was presumably born as a son),” Jeff White said. “My daughter is much like her peers. She likes to hang out, play games, and spend time with her cats. This bill renders us powerless to make medical decisions for our family.

“Vote no on this extremist bill before it kills someone,” White said.

Quinton Bell is a Black transgender male.

“I myself am a Black living, thriving example of what it is to be a transgender man,” Bell said. “Alabama is my home. It is time to focus on the real issues and crises facing Alabama. I would like to suggest that we park this matter and trust parents and doctors and focus on Medicaid expansion, which would decrease the uninsured by 43%. This is wasted time and energy to score political points.”

Violating the law would be a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Sen. Billy Beasley (D-Clayton) offered an amendment to the bill to allow for male circumcision.

That was adopted and the bill was given a favorable report on a voice vote. SB184 can now be considered by the full Senate.

Tuesday will be day 10 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

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