Alabama state senators approved a bill this week that would ban hormone therapy, puberty-blockers and surgery for transgender youth under age 19.
The legislation, entitled the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, passed the state Senate 23-4 on Tuesday, and will now go to the Alabama state House of Representatives for approval.
If the legislation passes, violators would be subject to up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $15,000, CBS News reported.
Alabama state Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R) sponsored the bill, which would also require school staff to tell parents when "a minor's perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex” – a move that would basically “out” transgender students.
“Children aren’t mature enough to make these decisions on surgeries and drugs. The whole point is to protect kids,” Shelnutt said, acknowledging that he never has spoken to a transgender youth, according to The Associated Press.
States have considered similar legislation previously, with conservatives in at least eight currently advocating for bills, but Alabama would be the first state to pass such a law, according to CBS News.
As Alabama’s state Senate voted to move the bill forward, protesters, including parents and advocates, gathered outside the statehouse in Montgomery to pressure state legislators not to approve the bill.
Allison Scott, a director at the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement that the legislators “are insisting that they know what’s best for transgender young people and ignoring” medical recommendations.
"It's effectively endangering many possible lifelines for a transgender child: Under this bill they can't go to their doctor for help, and they can't seek counsel or comfort from their teachers or school staff,” Scott said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama similarly criticized the bill, saying in a statement that it "runs counter to medical science, prevailing standards of treatment for transgender youth, and basic human dignity,"
This week, more than half of the states are discussing bills to limit access to sports or medical care for transgender people.