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AG Healey Joins Coalition Opposing Alabama Law Criminalizing Gender-Affirming Medical Care for Transgender Youth  

BOSTONMassachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief opposing an Alabama law, Senate Bill 184 (SB 184), criminalizing evidence-based and medically accepted gender-affirming care for transgender young people.  

The brief, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, urges the court to affirm a district court decision that preliminarily blocked the law, which makes it a felony – punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 – to assist a transgender young person with accessing gender-affirming health care. The brief highlights the extreme harms of Alabama’s intrusions on medical decisions that should be made between doctors, patients and their families.   

“Transgender kids deserve to grow up healthy, happy and able to make decisions about their own care with their doctors and families – without bigoted lawmakers getting in their way,” AG Healey. “We join our colleagues in calling on the appeals court to block this harmful and discriminatory law.” 

Signed into law on April 8, SB 184 is part of a dangerous, nationwide assault on the right of transgender people to live with dignity, be free from discrimination, and have equal access to healthcare. Alabama’s categorical ban on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender young people ignores broad medical consensus, interferes with medical decisions that providers reach with individual patients and their families, and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The law specifically targets transgender young people, ignoring the use of the exact same type of medical interventions for treatment to reinforce the gender an individual was assigned at birth. For instance, SB 184 permits doctors to prescribe testosterone for a cisgender male teen suffering from delayed pubertal development, but makes it a felony for a transgender male teen to access the same treatment.  

Discrimination and exclusion on the basis of transgender status cause direct economic, emotional, and health harms, including an increased risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide. In contrast to Alabama, the coalition states including Massachusetts have adopted laws and policies to combat discrimination against transgender people in healthcare, including policies that guarantee non-discriminatory insurance coverage of gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. These efforts result in better health outcomes for transgender residents and help safeguard their physical, emotional, and financial well-being. 

More than 1.6 million people in the United States, including approximately 300,000 youth between the ages of 13 and 17, identify as transgender. Transgender students experience discrimination, violence and harassment at rates that far exceed their cisgender peers. 

In the amicus brief, the coalition argues: 

  • SB 184 directly harms transgender young people living in and traveling to Alabama and imposes spillover harms on other states; 
  • SB 184 would exacerbate the effects of discrimination and inadequate access to healthcare for transgender young people; 
  • SB 184 discriminates based on sex, ignores medical standards, and interferes with decisions made between doctors and their patients; 
  • SB 184 directly violates equal protection by prohibiting only transgender young people from taking certain medications; and 
  • In contrast, policies like those in amici states that ensure access to gender-affirming medical care have improved health outcomes for transgender people and are based on well-established medical standards. 

Today’s brief is a continuation of AG Healey’s ongoing advocacy for the equal rights of LGBTQI+ individuals. Earlier this year, AG Healey joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief opposing an Arkansas law that prohibits healthcare professionals from providing transgender teenagers with medically necessary care. Earlier this month, AG Healey joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing a brief in support of a 13-year-old Indiana transgender boy who is suing his school district for gender identity discrimination and in 2017 she joined a similar amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court in support of a transgender student suing his school in Gloucester County, Virginia. In 2016, AG Healey worked closely with advocates, the business community, and transgender families to successfully garner support for the passage of an amendment to Massachusetts’ Public Accommodations Law protecting against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. 

In the filing the amicus brief, AG Healey joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.