Parents of four teens suing Alabama for the prohibition on treatment for transgender minors say the new law will drastically alter their children's lives, bringing them back to their past of energizing teens before returning to their lives of depression and unrest, as well as leaving them trapped in the jargon.
The new law, which was signed by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey last week, makes it a crime for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming medical treatment.
The standard of care for gender dysphoria, the clinical diagnosis for when a person's gender identity does not match their birth sex, is generally encompassed with puberty-blocking medication, hormone-replacement therapy, and surgical treatment. In Alabama, no gender-affirming surgeries are performed on transgender minors.
Two families of transgender children and two children's of Alabama and University of Alabama at Birmingham physicians filed one lawsuit in the Northern District of Alabama. Two other lawsuits were filed in the Middle District of Alabama by two different families of trans teens.
The teen defendants in the first federal lawsuit, filed in Birmingham, are identified under the pseudonyms Mary Roe and John Doe. In the second lawsuit, filed in Montgomery, the plaintiffs have been identified as teenagers identified by their initials, H.W. and C.W.
"These are not random kids; these are children in your communities who will suffer enormously," said Asaf Orr, an attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who is one of the groups representing the parents and their children.
We are compliant to protect our Alabama values and this legislation, said a spokesperson for the governors office. The Alabama Attorney General's Office did not respond to requests for recommendations.
Here's what we know about the adolescents who are battling Alabama's new law based on the claims:
Mary, 13, was born a transgender girl in Jefferson County at the age of 13 and started to express her family that she was going around age 6. After seeking therapy and advice from medical specialists, Mary decided to dress like a girl, and her mental health "greatly improved."
Following school's school year with her new gender identity, Mary's parents enrolled her in a new school, where she was allowed to dress like a kid and go by her new name. Since Mary's arrival at the new school, she has returned to being the happy, active child she was during the summer prior to the first grade, the lawsuit said.
Mary's pediatrician tested her for puberty blockers in early 2021. She began taking the medication in April 2021 and has taken it since.
"For Mary to be forced to undergo male puberty would be devastating," she states, putting her parents on the verge of becoming isolated, anxiety, and distress. Mary's parents are also concerned that without having access to the puberty-blocking medication she needs, she might exercise self-harm as a means of dealing with her psychological distress or even suicide."
Mary will have to stop taking her medication if the law enters force on May 8.
Mary's body will produce testosterone, and she will begin to develop secondary sex traits associated with males. These changes to Mary's bodysome of which would be permanent or would require surgery to reversewould show to others that she is a transgender girl, and would result in her experiencing again the distress she experienced from having a body seen by others as inconsistent with her female identity.
John, a 17-year-old in Shelby County, developed gender dysphoria at the age of eight. Despite his parents believing it was "a phase," they were accepting him. After experiencing it at the start of his pregnancy, the suit reported that John's mental health fell.
He quickly developed large breasts, which was extremely distressing for John. He would often cry in the shower because of the shape of his chest, wear multiple sports bras at a time, and slouch his shoulders to make his appearance less noticeable, according to a lawsuit. Getting his period was equally distressing for John. He stayed home for at least one day each month.
When John was in high school, he told his parents that he was transgender. With the help of his parents, John connected with the United Kingdom's mental health and medical care organizations. He began medication to stop his period, and, about a year later, began testosterone therapies.
Starting testosterone has been phenomenal for John, his lawsuit states. He now feels more like himself, increasing confidence, and developing better overall. Over the past year and a half, John's voice has decreased, and he has developed facial hair. Those features have allowed him to feel more comfortable in his body, eased anxieties about not being treated as a male.
If the law goes into effect, John will be forced to remove his medications, causing him to suffer a set of bleak physical and psychological bleak events.
According to Orr, the stories of Roe and Doe's experiences are the norm for transgender minors, and the new law means that parents must not be a part of their child's medical decisions.
This should be frightening to those who identify as political conservatives, he said.
H.W., a transgender 15-year-old, became transgender at the age of 10, began her social transition shortly after, legally changed her name and altered her clothes and appearance. "They were extremely helpful to H. W., but she was still concerned about what would happen when she started puberty, as she couldn't imagine having a body like a teenage boy," the lawsuit said.
H.W. started puberty-suppressing medication after receiving her multiple doctors at the age of 12 despite feeling dissatisfactory. According to the lawsuit, H.W. "had no choice but to undergo a puberty that would drastically alter her body, which is often irreversible. "The fact that she was allowed to pause puberty and not experience physical changes that scared her," she said.
In the fall, she will also begin hormone therapy.
Accessing medical care has been instrumental in H.W. She became less shy and more confident, beginning thriving in school, lawyers said in the lawsuit.
"Without H.W.'s puberty-suppressing medication, she would undergo a typical male puberty, which would result in her developing a deep voice, a typically masculine jawline, an Adam's apple, hair growth on her body, and a widening of her shoulders," according to the suit. The changes are potentially irreversible, and would cause H.W. to "not feel like herself anymore," and cause her to be schizophred."
According to the suit, H.W.'s family would have to leave Alabama if the law goes into effect, leaving her parents without work and splitting her apart from her siblings.
C.W., 13, is a transgender girl who first told her parents about her severe stress and anxiety at the age of nine, and shortly thereafter came out as trans. After sharing her new pronouns and name with those around her, the lawsuit said, C.W.'s "outlook, demeanor, and overall well-being immediately improved."
In 2018, when she was in fourth grade and asked pupils to name her by her new name, bullying and harassment began. In 2018, her parents legalized her name and submitted the legal name change to the school.
C.W. was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at the age of 11, but later that year, she began puberty suppressing medication. According to a lawsuit, the medicine "made an incredible difference" in C.W.'s life. She would also experience physical trauma while wearing gloves.
"C.W.'s parents are concerned that his confident self would fade away without her medical treatment," she said, adding that her family would contemplate fleeing Alabama and leaving their families, support networks and jobs.
Both lawsuits claim that the adolescents are being denied medical treatment, and that they are taking the decision out of the hands of doctors and parents.
According to the Doe and Roe lawsuit, the law removes science and seeks to stop medically necessary, safe, effective treatment for children with gender dysphoria in Alabama without any purpose.
According to the lawsuit, doctors and parents of transgender minors "are forced to choose between refusing medically necessary treatment from their minor transgender patients or children, on the one hand, or being accused of criminal prosecution.
And orr and lawsuits argue that the treatments themselves are not prohibitedif another minor needed puberty blockers or hormone therapy for issues that were not related to gender dysphoria or being transgender, they might receive them. Orr said that is a clear discrimination based on sex.