Trans teen explains the harsh realities of Alabama’s ‘dangerous, messed-up’ trans healthcare bill

Maggie Baska
·3-min read

A transgender teenager from Alabama has spoken out against a “hurtful” and “messed-up” bill that would bar medical professionals from providing gender-affirming treatment.

Syrus Hall, a 17-year-old from Mobile, Alabama, told NPR that he is still in the early stages of his transition, but he worked hard to get to this point. He said: “I dealt with bullying at school and people being mean to me just because I exist.

“If I can deal with that, I know who I am. I’m not going to go back.”

But he said he’s concerned about legislation that would outlaw hormone treatment and other gender-affirming treatments for trans youth like him. Hall questioned why “some guy who has never met me” could dictate “what I can and can’t do”.

He added that the notion that he is a “gender-confused child” who’s just “going through a phase” caused him real pain.

“It’s wrong,” Hall said. “It’s really messed up, and it hurts people. When people who know who they are can’t access the things they need to make themselves feel better, it’s awful.”

Earlier this month, Republican senator Shay Shelnutt proposed a bill that would make it a Class C felony for medical professionals in Alabama to provide gender-affirming care to trans minors. This class of felony would result in a 10-year prison sentence or a $15,000 fine.

The bill would bar healthcare professionals from administering hormones or puberty blockers to trans youth as well as prohibiting gender-affirming surgeries for minors.

During debate on the bill, Shelnutt revealed that he had never spoken to a young transgender person, according to reports by the AP. Shelnutt also admitted he did not know that gender-affirming treatments were being done in Alabama when he first introduced the bill last year.

Carla Saunée, Hall’s mother, told NPR that she’s astounded that Shelnutt has never spoken to a trans youth – yet he is still pushing anti-trans legislation. She invited the Republican lawmaker to “just spend the day with us” and have a conversation.

“It doesn’t even have to be us!” Saunée said. “Find you a transgender youth and be around them and experience who they are. You can’t write a bill when you have zero experience with the transgender population.”

The bill would also require teachers and staff at schools in Alabama to share with parents if they learn that a “minor’s perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex”. It would effectively require teachers to “out” trans students to their parents.

Saunée, who is a teacher at a public high school, said she thinks that section of the bill would be “dangerous” for students whose families would reject their gender identity. She said she would not “deny” a student the ability to be acknowledged under their chosen pronouns and name. But she said requiring teachers to “out” students could take away one of trans kids only safe spaces.

“If a kid comes to me and asks me to call them by their pronouns and their name, I’m not going to deny them that because they deserve to be comfortable in an environment that is meant for them to be safe in,” Saunée said. “Who are you to tell me as an educator that I have to go break trust with a student, to out them to their parents, when that is not my place, at all?”