Pediatricians say Alabama transgender bill could outlaw circumcision

A controversial bill that would ban some hormonal and surgical treatments for transgender youth could also inadvertently ban routine infant circumcision, according to the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Linda Lee, the department’s executive director, said members had early concerns about language related to “removing healthy or non-diseased body parts or tissues” among a list of prohibited treatments. Violation of that section is a felony. Lee said the bill had been amended, but not enough to clarify the prescriptions for doctors who perform circumcision to remove the foreskin from the penis.

“We don’t think it solves the confusing language problem,” said Lee. “We know the intention was not to include circumcision, but we are skeptical that the amendment has resolved the semantics issue.”

Chapter officials drafted an amendment to the bill, but it was not passed, Lee said. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes bills to regulate medical care for transgender youth. In March, Academy President Dr. Lee Savio Beers made a statement on this matter.

“Several state lawmakers have introduced bills banning gender-affirming care for gender-diverse and transgender youth and forbidding transgender youth from participating in sports teams based on their gender identity,” Beers said. ‘These bills are dangerous. If not disputed, there will be transgender teens in certain zip codes who do not have access to basic medical care, and pediatricians in certain zip codes who are criminalized for providing medical care. “

The list of treatments that would be illegal in Alabama falls under a section that would ban them if they are carried out to “ change the minor’s appearance or confirm the minor’s perception of his or her gender. ” Circumcisions are usually performed by doctors within the first 10 days of birth and can take place in the nursery of the hospital or in the doctor’s office. The procedure changes the appearance of a child’s genitals, but it is widely practiced in the United States.

Senator Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, the author of the Transgender Treatment Act, could not be reached for comment. The bill has passed through the senate and has been approved by a health committee. It remains on the program in the waning days of the legislative session, which ends on May 17.

“This error is predictable when lawmakers try to practice medicine,” said Dr. Pippa Abston, a pediatrician in northern Alabama.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. Some communities routinely circumcise young boys for religious or cultural reasons.

Rabbi Yossi Friedman, executive director of Chabad, Alabama, said bris is one of the oldest Jewish traditions. The religious ceremony celebrates new life and takes place when a child is circumcised on the eighth day after birth. Religious circumcisions are similar to medical ones, but are performed by trained Jewish practitioners.

Friedman said that if the law were passed and interpreted as involving circumcision, it would likely be challenged as an encroachment on religious freedom.

“What would happen if this law were passed?” Friedman said. ‘I’m going to jail. That’s what’s going to happen. Because I’m not going to stop practicing my Judaism. “

Friedman said people who support the law should consider its possible unintended consequences, including those that would prevent parents from raising children within the traditions of their faith.

“The very people who support this bill in most cases would be very reluctant to come over and ask the government what we should do as parents and how we should raise our children,” Friedman said.

Friedman said people concerned about the medical treatment of transgender youth should find other ways to deal with them outside of the legal system.

“Every time a law is passed, every time the government takes a step, there are unintended consequences,” Friedman said.

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