Parents of four teens suing Alabama for the restriction on treatment for transgender minors say the new law will drastically alter their children's lives, bringing them back to their previous experiences of depression and confusion before starting treatment, and leaving them a hole of themselves.
At least have been filed since Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law last week making it a crime for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming medical treatment. The new law will go into effect May 8.
The type of treatment for gender dysphoria, a clinical diagnosis for when a person's gender isn't the same as their birth date, is usually comprised of puberty-blocking medication, hormone-replacement therapy, and surgical treatment. There are no gender-affirming surgeries for transgender minors in Alabama.
Two transgender teens and two children's of Alabama and University of Alabama at Birmingham doctors filed one lawsuit in the Northern District of Alabama. Two other types of transgender teens have filed a lawsuit.
Teens in the first federal lawsuit, filed in Birmingham, are identified under the pseudonymes Mary Roe and John Doe. In the second lawsuit, filed in Montgomery, the names of the plaintiffs are categorized as teenagers identified by their initials, H.W. and C.W.
"These are not random children. These are children in your communities who will suffer tremendously," said Asaf Orr, an attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is one of the organizations representing parents and their children.
"We are prepared to protect our Alabama values and this legislation," a spokesperson for the governor's office said. The Alabama Attorney General's Office did not respond to requests for comment.
Here's what we know of the adolescents who are battling Alabama's new law based on the lawsuits:
Mary, 13, is a transgender girl from Jefferson County. She started receiving gender dysphoria from her father at the age of 6, and began to confess to her family that she was a child starting around the age of 6. After seeking therapy and advice from medical professionals, Mary wore clothes as a girl, and her mental health "greatly improved."
Mary's parents enrolled her in a new school, where she was permitted to dress like a child and go by her new name. After Mary's arrival at the new school, she has returned to being the happy, active child she had during the summer prior to the first grade, the lawsuit said.
Mary's pediatrician examined her for puberty blockers in early 2021. She began taking the medicine in April 2021, and has taken it since.
Mary would continue to receive puberty-blocking medications every three months, and is able to obtain any future medical therapy that her healthcare providers think are medically necessary to treat her gender dysphoria. Consequently, Mary's parents consider self-harm as a way of dealing with her psychological distress or even suicide.
Mary will have to stop her medication if the law goes into effect on May 8th.
Mary's body will produce testosterone, and she will begin to develop secondary sex characteristics related to males. Some of them would be permanent or would require surgery to reverse, but they would make certain to others that she is a transgender girl, and cause her to reconfirm her sex depraved by having a body seen by others as incompatible with her female identity.
John, a 17-year-old in Shelby County, developed gender dysphoria as a young age. While his parents thought the behavior was "a phase," they were accepting. Although it was beneficial at the initial initial stage, the lawsuit said John's mental health was down when he started puberty.
He quickly developed large breasts, which was extremely distressing for John. He would often cry in the shower because of his chest's shape, wear multiple sports bras at a time, and strain his shoulders to improve his appearance. The condition of John was also very distressing, according to the lawsuit. John's dysphoria was so severe that he stayed home for at least one day each month.
John was diagnosed with transgender with the help of his parents. At the age of 26, he and his wife developed medication to stop his period, and he began testosterone therapy.
Starting testosterone has been amazing for John, his lawsuit states. He starts feeling more like himself, developing greater confidence, and developing facial hair. During the past year and a half, John's voice has decreased, and he has developed facial hair. Those qualities have allowed him to feel more comfortable in his body, while eased anxieties about not being treated as a male.
If the law goes into effect, John will be forced to keep his medications, which is the result of the devastating physical and psychological consequences.
According to Orr, the stories of Roe and Doe's experiences are the norm for transgender minors, and the new law requires parents to not be responsible for their child's medical decisions.
"That should be frightening for those who are identifiable as political conservatives," he said.
H.W., a 15-year-old transgender, was transgender when she was 10, and changed her name and appearance legally. These modifications were beneficial to H. W., however, she remained terrified about what would happen when she was born prematurely., according to a lawsuit.
H.W. began puberty-suppressing medicine after receiving multiple evaluations at the age of 12, which prevented her from experiencing puberty-suppressing effects, causing her to weaken her body. According to the lawsuit, by permitting H.W. to stop puberty and not experience physical changes that made her uncomfortable.
She is expected to begin hormone therapy in the fall.
"Accessing medical care has been profoundly beneficial for H.W. She became less shy and more confident in school, and began prospering.
"Without H.W.'s puberty-surpressing 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 broadening of her shoulders." The changes, according to the suit, are potentially irreversible, and will cause H.W. to "not feel like herself anymore," and she will likely be bullied."
If the law goes into effect, H.W.'s family would have to leave Alabama, according to the lawsuit, removing her parents without work and dividing her away from her siblings.
C.W., 13, is a transgender girl who first spoke to her parents about her severe anxiety at 9 years old, and soon afterwards became out as trans. After revealing her new pronouns and name with others around her, the lawsuit claims that C.W.'s "outlook, demeanor, and overall well-being have immediately improved."
In 2018, when she was in fourth grade and asked school administrators to name her by her new name, there were instances of bullying and harassment, which lasted several years. In 2018, her parents legally changed her name and sent the legal name change to the school.
C.W. was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at the age of 11 and began puberty suppressing medication. According to the lawsuit, the medicine "made an incredible difference" in C.W.'s life. She would also suffer irreversible changes if she removed the medications.
C.W.'s parents are concerned that without her medical treatment, C.W.'s confident self would fade away, according to the suit, adding that her family may travel out of Alabama and leave their families behind, support networks and jobs.
Both cases claim that teens are being denied medical treatment while taking the decision out of the hands of doctors and parents.
The Doe and Roe lawsuit states that the law abandons science and seeks to prevent unsafe, effective, and medically necessary treatment for children with gender dysphoria in Alabama without any one one rational basis.
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 subjected to criminal prosecution.
Orr and lawsuits claim that their therapies themselves are not prohibitedas long as another minor was required of puberty blockers or hormone therapy for issues that were not related to gender dysphoria or being transgender, they might receive them. Orr claims that discrimination is evident based on sex.
RELATED TO THE DESCRIPTIONS