Thursday August 18th, 2022 3:23PM

Trans kids, parents fight wave of legislation in red states

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Ninth grader Harleigh Walker, 15, spends her time after school like many girls her age: doing homework, listening to Taylor Swift, collecting records and hanging out with friends.

But this year, her spring break also included trying to persuade members of the state House and Senate to reject legislation banning gender-affirming medications for transgender kids like her under 19. She was unsuccessful. On Thursday, Alabama lawmakers passed the measure, and Gov. Kay Ivey signed it into law on Friday, meaning that Harleigh will no longer be able to take testosterone-blocking drugs.

“Honestly, I’m a little scared now,” she said Thursday after learning the bill had passed. ”But we’re still going to fight no matter what.”

Harleigh said she is holding out hope the bill will be be blocked by a court.

Alabama is among multiple states with Republican-controlled legislatures that have advanced bills not only to block medical treatment but to ban transgender children from using school restrooms or playing on sports teams that don’t correspond with their sex at birth. The Alabama medication bill is one of the most far-reaching: It would put doctors in prison for up to 10 years for prescribing puberty blockers or hormonal treatment to trans kids under 19.

“In one breathtakingly cruel and cowardly day, the Alabama legislature passed the single most anti- transgender legislative package in history,” said Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy group for the LGBTQ community.

Conservative lawmakers say the measures are needed to protect children and parental rights.

“We regulate all kinds of things that are harmful for minors — alcohol, cigarette smoke, vaping, tattoos — because their minds aren’t ready to make those decisions about things that can affect them long term,” said Rep. Wes Allen, the sponsor of the House version of the Alabama legislation. Allen cited public hearing testimony from a woman who said she regretted taking hormone therapy to try to transition to being male.

“With these powerful medications that have detrimental effects on their body long term, we just want to put a pause on it ... give them a chance to develop and grow out of that,” Allen said.

But opponents say transgender health is being used as a deliberate political wedge issue to motivate a voting base — in the same way they say bills about critical race theory have been employed. Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. Numerous Republican-controlled legislatures have proposed bills to block its teaching in public schools.

The measures involving trans youth have prompted swift backlash from medical experts, Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration, the U.S. Department of Justice and the families of trans youth. Last month, the Justice department sent a letter to all 50 state attorneys general, warning them that blocking transgender and nonbinary youth from receiving gender-affirming care could be an infringement of federal constitutional protections.

“My child is not a political tool. This is not a fair fight to pick on vulnerable children,” said Vanessa Finney Tate, the mother of a 13-year-old trans boy in Birmingham, Alabama, after testifying at a public legislative hearing on bill that would block students from using bathrooms corresponding to their gender.

Harleigh’s father, Jeff Walker notes that many of the same Alabama lawmakers who supported the ban on gender-affirming medical treatment recently argued, ‘It’s your body and your choice’ regarding coronavirus vaccinations. He said the family is now scrambling to find another state where it can continue Harleigh's medical care.

“We just don’t want people meddling in our medical care," he said.

Medical groups including The American Academy of Pediatrics have publicly opposed efforts to outlaw gender-affirming care.

“Gender-affirming care benefits the health and psychological functioning of transgender and gender-diverse youth," the Endocrine Society said in a statement. “When an individual’s gender identity is not respected and they cannot access medical care, it can result in higher psychological problem scores and can raise the person’s risk of committing suicide or other acts of self-harm.”

The organization notes that only reversible puberty blockers are recommended for younger adolescents, while older adolescents might qualify for hormone therapy.

Harleigh received the medication — which stops her from going through male puberty — only after consulting with a team of doctors for years. She said it's “weird” to see lawmakers with no medical experience call her medication “child abuse,” when six doctors have agreed she should have it.

Angus, a 16-year-old trans teen who requested that his last name not be used because of the bullying he has received in his north Alabama town, said he knew at puberty that the mirror reflected “a body that wasn’t my own.”

After coming out to his mother, he began slowly testing the waters: dressing as a man, changing his name. Only after years of talking to a team of doctors, was he able to recently get medications to stop his periods. The next step, which he is eager to start, would be a small dose of testosterone.

“I have been waiting for seven years to finally become a man, the man that I’ve always known I am,” Angus said.

He said bills to block such treatments are harming, not protecting trans youth.

“The government is saying, ‘Oh, parents are abusing their children by letting them transition,'" he said. “Actually, it’s more child abuse to not let them transition if they come out. What these bills really are doing is putting trans youth lives at risk because these suicide rates will spike exponentially. And a lot of families will lose their children."

Similar bans are moving forward in other states.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the state’s child welfare agency to investigate as abuse reports of gender-confirming care for kids. And a law in Arkansas bans gender-affirming medications. That law has been blocked by a court, however.

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

“It feels like a back-stab," Harleigh said. “I’ve lived in this state my whole life. For them to just say, ‘Well, you know what, this is an issue that’s really popular on my side of the aisle so I’m just going to raise it up and support it because it’ll help me win my election’ — It just hurts to see them do that.”

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trans kids, parents fight wave of legislation in red states
Transgender kids and their parents say they feel attacked by a wave of Republican-sponsored legislation and policies aimed at trans youth
12:32PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Macron confident as far-right rival closes in ahead of vote
President Emmanuel Macron says he has no fear of losing France’s presidential election despite far-right rival Marine Le Pen narrowing the gap in opinion polls days before the first-round vote
12:07PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Live Updates | Former champ Johnson closes on Masters lead
Dustin Johnson is stalking the lead early in the sound round of the Masters
12:02PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Live Updates | Ruble on mend, Russia bank cuts interest rate
Russia’s central bank says it’s lowering a key interest rate, and said more cuts could be on the way
11:16AM ( 1 hour ago )
Jackson confirmation takes Biden political story full circle
It’s a moment 46 days and more than 46 years in the making
10:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
Mass shooting suspect served less time due to California law
Officials say a suspect arrested in connection with Sunday’s mass shooting near the California state Capitol would likely still be in prison if not for corrections officials’ use of sentencing credits authorized by voters in 2016
10:09AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Live Updates | EU imposes sanctions on 2 Putin daughters
The European Union imposed has sanctions on two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a new package of measures targeting Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, according to two EU officials
4:22AM ( 8 hours ago )
Live Updates | Slovak PM, top EU leaders visit Kyiv
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger and two top European Union officials are in Kyiv looking to shore up the bloc’s support for war-torn Ukraine
3:55AM ( 8 hours ago )
Live Updates | Russia acknowledges significant troop losses
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has acknowledged that Russia has suffered “significant losses of troops” during its military operation in Ukraine
2:57AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
3 Shanghai officials sacked over COVID-19 response
Three local officials in Shanghai have been sacked over a slack response to the COVID-19 outbreak in China's largest city, where residents are complaining of harsh lockdown conditions leading to shortages of food and basic necessities
5:23AM ( 7 hours ago )
Experts say US suspension of COVID aid will prolong pandemic
In the latest Senate package targeted at stopping the coronavirus, U.S. lawmakers dropped nearly all funding for curbing the virus beyond American borders, a move many health experts describe as dangerously short-sighted
5:24PM ( 19 hours ago )
Michigan governor sues to secure abortion rights, vacate ban
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has sued to protect abortion rights, asking a court to recognize a right to abortion under the state constitution
4:28PM ( 20 hours ago )
AP Health
Macron confident as far-right rival closes in ahead of vote
President Emmanuel Macron says he has no fear of losing France’s presidential election despite far-right rival Marine Le Pen narrowing the gap in opinion polls days before the first-round vote
12:07PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Live Updates | Former champ Johnson closes on Masters lead
Dustin Johnson is stalking the lead early in the sound round of the Masters
12:02PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Ex-Goldman Sachs banker convicted in plot to loot 1MDB fund
A former Goldman Sachs banker has been convicted on corruption charges accusing him of participating in a $4.5 billion scheme to loot the Malaysian state investment fund, 1MDB
11:58AM ( 37 minutes ago )
SpaceX launches 3 visitors to space station for $55M each
SpaceX has launched three rich businessmen and their astronaut escort to the International Space Station for more than a week’s stay
11:57AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Jury deadlocked on some charges in Whitmer kidnap plot trial
Jurors say they've reached decisions on “several” charges but are deadlocked on others in the trial of four men accused of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
11:51AM ( 44 minutes ago )