Please Join Us in the Fight Against Anti Trans Youth Legislation

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The transgender (trans) community of Alabama, including, but not limited to the Southern Transgender Alliance, wish to express our full throated opposition to the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act” (hereinafter referred to as VCCPA) . This piece of proposed legislation, introduced by State Rep. Wes Allen (R), seeks to prohibit medications that block or delay puberty for transgender individuals aged 18 years and younger whose gender assigned at birth is incongruent with their experienced gender. As transgender (trans) individuals and parents of trans youth who have experienced the medically recognized condition known as gender dysphoria from an early age, we speak on this matter as experts. We have first-hand knowledge of the challenges that a trans individual faces when they are forced to transition later in life due to not having access to medications prescribed by medical professionals who specialize in trans care. Having access to both mental health professionals as well as physicians whose therapies can delay the onset of puberty allows trans youth to receive ongoing counseling and the ability to seek and examine the individual they authentically are. Such services may be defined as nothing short of lifesaving. The services and pharmaceuticals that are the subject of this misguided bill merely pause the onset of a dysphoria-inducing puberty in order for a young trans person to make personal decisions with the support from parent/guardian and supervised by medical and mental health professionals.

We do not stand alone in our opposition to VCCPA. Our position is shared in whole or in part by the American Pediatrics Association, the American Medical Association, ACLU and many others (including more than 200 medical professionals who signed an open letter last year opposing these type of bills here in the south and nationwide). The population of trans youth already face a multitude of challenges, not least among which are numerous health disparities. Young people who identify as transgender or gender diverse (TGD) would be irreparably and permanently harmed by the VCCPA. It is devoid of either the “compassion” or “protection” its title purports to espouse; instead,  it will irreparably infringe upon the rights of transgender youth and that of their families to seek specialized treatment and care as described and endorsed by the American Pediatrics Association and other medical groups. 

Trans youth, as well as the trans community as a whole, continue to face disparities that stem from multiple sources, including inequitable laws and policies, societal discrimination, and a lack of access to consistent, quality healthcare. This is equally or even more intense for trans youth who do not conform to social expectations and norms regarding gender. The best estimates suggest that nearly 1.4 million adults in just the United States identify as transgender or gender non-conforming and that almost 2% of youth ages 13-18 personally identify as transgender. In Alabama there are approximately 1.67 million high school age young people. Statistics indicate that some 33,000 of them may identify as transgender. These trans youth consistently face extremely high rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, non-lethal self-harm, and suicide. We find 56% of youth who identify as transgender reported previous suicidal ideation and 31% report previous suicide attempts. In Alabama this would equate to 11,000 of our children. Blocking, limiting or forbidding legal access to trans care for youth will almost certainly increase the risk of harm to general public health and safety. Passage and implementation of this legislation will inexorably lead to the exact opposite of its stated intent as the numbers of trans youth who seek to become who they choose to be are once again told they do not have access to the medical treatments they want and desperately need and therefore resort to less safe approaches to therapy.

Legislation like the VCCPA bubbles to the surface propelled by antiquated, hysterical anti-trans myths, misconceptions and outright bigotry. One such myth is the inexplicable and un-supported claim that there are people who actively seek to perform surgeries on underage trans teens (including but not limited to gender reassignment). Nothing could be further from the truth. Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) is a  momentous, consequential procedure and a decision no more appropriate for youths as the process involves an extended period on hormonal replacement therapy (years) and an extended series of counseling sessions by a mental health professional who works with the individual, also usually for many years, before making a decision to proceed with any type of surgeries as an adult. Even as an adult, professional certification of stable mental health, as well as medical health most often is required in order to undergo these types of procedures. Rep. Allen and others who support this type of discriminatory legislation appear to labor under the mind-boggling misconception there is a hidden agenda or secret national movement to promote gender reassignment surgeries in youth and that the medications that aide youth in making life choices, as guided by parents and mental health professionals, are harmful and damaging to their bodies. This is a baseless assertion supported by absolutely no evidence. It is not only non-factual, but ahistorical and un-scientific. In fact, these treatments seek to stabilize the trans youth and provide an alternative to the agonizing 56% of suicidal ideations and the 31% of actual suicidal attempts. How is it “compassionate” to enact legislation that will certainly immiserate a fragile, marginalized community? The short answer is that is not. Trans people, our youth included, are among the most hated and despised in our nation, and doubtless so in our state and this benighted bill is yet another manifestation of that hatred. Trans youth simply want what any other citizen of the United States and specifically citizens of the Great State of Alabama want: access to quality healthcare and to live freely and authentically. “We Dare Defend Our Rights” applies equally to our trans siblings wherever in Alabama they may be.

We are at a time in our nation in which we see systemic racism, anti-semitism, separatism, and a general breakdown of our society as a whole, both politically and morally. None of this is the fault of the trans community, young or old. We urge you to reject out-of-hand as harmful and hurtful the provisions of the VCCPA by voting it down. In doing so you will take a stand for the thousands of youth of our State and many other States who already face multifarious discriminations for simply living their lives. Their discrimination must not be endorsed and advanced by their elected representatives. Individual rights are the essential foundation of our democracy. Too often we see government over-reach their mandate, telling others how to live, worship, or exist. Let us not allow H.B. 303 to put our state again on the wrong side of history. We implore you to reject the VCCPA.

Please join us in giving these youth a voice. One that says, yes we are different, yes we are non-conforming, but are we not also equal in the eyes of the law as any other youth that would seek other types of medical treatments? We are also creative, community oriented, talented and well educated members of society that deserve to have our government recognize us as more than second class citizens. It was Martin Luther King Jr. who reminded us that “It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, "Wait on time.” In summation trans kids have the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as any other American citizen.

We thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and we make ourselves continuously available to present any materials or answer any questions, including directly from transgender youth in our Alabama community and many from around the country who stand to join us in these efforts in discharging discriminatory legislation as the VCCP Act before you now.

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