On February 10, 2021, over two dozen transgender Alabama residents and allies filled the floor of the Alabama House Judiciary Committee to speak out against the state’s attempt to pass a bill that would make it a felony to prescribe puberty-blocking drugs or hormones as transgender therapies for minors with gender dysphoria.
Among those on the floor, that day was David Fuller, whose heartfelt statement about his transgender daughter echoed across the nation.
Fuller is a 56-year-old sergeant with the Gadsden Police Department. He has served in law enforcement for over 27 years, and is the single father of two boys and his transgender daughter, Jessica, following the death of his wife.
One year later and Alabama lawmakers are still attempting to strip transgender youth of their rights. This week the state’s House passed HB 322, an anti-trans bathroom bill that would bar students from elementary school through high school from using a bathroom or locker room that is consistent with their gender.
Another bill, HB266, which would put a felony ban on healthcare for trans minors up to age 19, passed the Senate committee and is considered one of the most aggressive anti-trans bills in the country, according to Chase Strangio, a staff attorney for ACLU and transgender rights activist.
The bill could penalize prescribers by a prison sentence or a fine of up to $15,000 if they provide gender-affirming care to transgender minors. Every major medical association supports gender-affirming care for trans youth, calling it evidence-based care that has been studied, with widespread consensus as safe and proven to save lives.
It will also require school personnel, including teachers, counselors, and principals, to out trans youth to their parents or legal guardians.
“These bills don’t personally affect me, but I used to be a trans teen too,” Jessica Fuller, the daughter of David Fuller, tells me, having medically transitioned at the age of 16. “I’d hate to see other kids not get a chance like I did.”
Jessica calls the bills “draconian” and says that Alabama lawmakers are using “thousands, maybe millions of dollars that could be provided to kids” to harm trans youth instead.
“This won’t just hurt trans people, it’ll hurt anyone who needs hormones for whatever reason. Whether intersex, birth control, diabetes, or any other hormone disorder. They will all be affected and many will die.”
As of February 25th, 195 anti-LGBTQ bills are being heard by lawmakers across the country, the majority of them (104) aimed at transgender and gender-nonconforming people, according to Freedom for All Americans. Another 77 bills ban classroom conversation and books about LGBTQ people under the guise of “parents’ rights.” The nationwide onslaught is being financed and fueled by longtime anti-LGBTQ activist groups, often with identical language from state to state, despite evidence of the harms the bills inflict on already vulnerable children.
Quentin Bell, Executive Director of The Knights and Orchids Society, an HIV service organization based in Selma led by Black LGBTQ people and a grantee of Gilead’s COMPASS Initiative, says that Alabama’s LGBTQ community will continue to show up:
“We’re showing up at the statehouse to speak out against these bills, we’re rallying our supporters to make sure they’ve got the latest updates so that they’re informed on how they can take action, and no matter what, we are still going to make sure we’re providing support to transgender and gender non conforming [TGNC] youth in Alabama.”
“I ask you to see trans youth as members of your community instead of as targets.”
— stef (@stefwithanfany) February 9, 2022
Earlier this month, Bell was one of many in the community who attended a hearing on SB184 (the parent bill to HB266), to ask legislators to focus on expanding Medicaid rather than focusing on transgender youth.
David Fuller says Alabama lawmakers are sending a clear message that they don’t care about transgender youth and families who will be affected by these bills.
“In fact, I doubt they give them much of a thought at all,” he said. “They are using them as a political football and we know it. These kids go unnoticed by the general public and are living their lives the best they can until these legislators decide they can make some political points with a few voters by tearing their lives apart.”
Jessica says she would like Alabama residents to start voting with a conscience when asked what she would like to see from elected officials and Alabama residents overall.
“I would love to see elected officials actually be honest and care about their citizens,” she said.
“I would like to stop gerrymandering and voter suppression. I would like the minimum wage to be 15 dollars an hour. I would love to see better federal health care that covers more. I would love for all the corrupt officials to be retired and a senatorial age and term limit. I would love to see a lot of things that could make America better for not just the LGBTQ+ (community) but for everyone.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, both versions of the bills are scheduled for a House Judiciary committee meeting on March 2nd. If passed, it will move to the full House for a vote and if passed there, goes to Governor Kay Ivey.
“If passed and signed into law, [Alabama’s ban on transgender healthcare] would be a gross overreach of government power,” said Seonju Bickley, Director of Communications at the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.
“The Legislature is not elected to be the definitive medical authority in the state. Let parents and kids decide what is best for themselves, in consultation with their doctor and current medical best practices.”
Last year Ivey signed HB 391, a law to ban transgender children from participating in school sports.
Gallup data released last month shows a growing population of LGBTQ people, now at 7% of the U.S. population, with a record-high 21% of the youngest generation of Americans, Gen Z.
“The sad thing is everyone in the Alabama Senate today knows that the changes they are trying to legislate against will happen in time no matter what they do,” David said.
“The writing is on the wall. And these kids getting the support and health care they need will not change the people in Alabama in any way that they could honestly point a finger at. The kids will just be getting what they need. Period. So, why wait? Could Alabama please stop being on the wrong side of history just this once? It’s 2022. Throw those carpetbaggers that bring these bills into our state out on their heads. In Alabama, we can take care of our own.”