By Rose Davis
On April 7, the Alabama Senate passed SB184 and the House passed HB322. SB184 restricts the ability of people under the age of 19 to receive gender-affirming care through puberty blockers, hormones or surgery, requires teachers to inform parents if their child is questioning their gender, and could make anyone providing gender-affirming care to people under 19 to face up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. It was pushed on the last day of the senate, ensuring an easy passage.
HB322 restricts bathroom and locker room use in K-12 to biological sex. At the last minute, HB322 was amended to restrict discussions of sexual identity or gender identity in classrooms from kindergarten to fifth grade; reflecting Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Through these bills, Alabama joins Texas, Arizona and Florida in restricting conversations and ability of transgender minors to receive gender-affirming care and access gender-affirming bathrooms.
These bills reveal a paradoxical aspect to republican legislature. Republicans aim to decrease governmental inference in communities, yet pass bills like these that micromanage the lives and experiences of people to fit a standard set by the government. There are school boards for a reason, to overview the content taught in schools. These bills limit personal freedom and choice, using children as a shield with Shay Shelnutt, the main sponsor of the bill, claiming gender-affirming care as “child abuse.”
According to a 2015 survey of transgender individuals in Alabama by the National Center for Transgender Equality, there are about 225 transgender people living in Alabama. However, this survey is now 7 years out of date and does not count people in the closet, those who don’t identify as transgender, minors, or new transgender individuals. Yet, this still reveals they are legislating an immensely small population of Alabama, even smaller if we specify transgender people under 19 or if we compare it to population of Alabama in 2015 of 4.852 million. So, why do these people feel the need to legislate and limit the lives of such a small population?
These bills also reveal how little lawmakers understand the people they are legislating against. According to Kiara Alfoseca of ABC news, gender-affirming surgeries could not be done until a person is 19 in Alabama before SB184, making that section of the law pointless and solely for targeting transgender people. They also make unjustified claims about puberty blockers causing infertility. Scott Stadthagen, the sponsor of HB322, claims that the bill doesn’t target LGBT people, however that is a denial of reality.
It is important for people to know who these bills are targeting; people like me. I’m 22 and I’m a transgender, nonbinary person. I am scared of using any public bathroom because I do not fit into either binary gender identity. I did not know the word for being transgender until I was 15, I did not know nonbinary until 16. I came out at 18 and only started living as Rose in my freshman year.
I want to get onto estrogen because I want to balance out my testosterone. If I was four years younger, the doctors giving me gender-affirming care would be committing a felony. I would be forcefully medically detransitioned by the state of Alabama. They are shooting us from a balcony, on the steps of the state senate. They are shooting me from a balcony.