Watch doctors, representatives, and the dad of a trans girl battle over anti-trans bill in Alabama

The nation is still facing the novel coronavirus, Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is underway, and more than 400,00 Americans have died already due to COVID-19. In all of this, a slew of states have found time to push anti-trans legislation. Now, Alabama’s state legislator is considering a fiercely transphobic bill, HB 1 and SB 1, that would make it a felony for physicians to provide transgender youth with gender-affirming medical care. In this legislation, gender-affirming care includes surgeries, hormones, and puberty blockers.

If the bill becomes law, physicians who provide gender-affirming care—which, by the way, can be lifesaving for trans youth—could face up to 10 years in prison. And somehow, this isn’t even the worst part of the proposal. Even beyond the language of the bill, however, it’s really the public hearing that involved physicians, members of the committee, and the parent of a transgender daughter that’s worth the long watch.

What makes all of this even worse? The bill essentially necessitates that physicians “out” trans youth to their parents if they request gender-affirming treatment. This is terrifying for trans youth for the same reasons it is for everyone: people deserve privacy, autonomy, and a trusting relationship with a medical professional includes honesty. It’s also terrifying for transgender youth because of potential risk of becoming homeless.

Republican Rep. Wes Allen sponsored and introduced the bill, with Republican Reps. Chip Brown and Shane Stringer also sponsoring it.

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing to discuss the bill. One man, who introduced himself as a former police investigator, spoke about his daughter coming out to him as transgender at the age of sixteen, and how he initially suspected his child was gay. He talked about being “ignorant” and “not knowing anything” about transgender children, and that in investigating, he learned that transgender youth are disproportionately likely to attempt suicide—but that statistic drops when transgender youth get affirmation and acceptance. His speech was deeply earnest and moving. 

Later in the public hearing, he added, “I didn’t want my kids to be short,” the dad said. “Much less transgender.” His point being that parents don’t push their kids into being transgender or force hormones on them, but rather that parents want their kids to fit in and be safe. So, he had a learning process in understanding and accepting, and now argues on behalf of transgender youth getting the support and treatment they need and deserve.

A number of physicians did speak. On the one hand, a plastic surgeon appeared and spoke in favor of the bill. On the other hand, a physician spoke who argued against the bill in terms of its privacy violations, discussing that the law, as written, would take away confidentiality needed between minors and patients. This physician framed the issue in terms of abuse but obviously makes sense in terms of gender-affirming care as well. 

One representative noted they don’t have “medical training” and asked the physician arguing in favor of the bill to send studies he referenced. I believe the study in question is this one, a long-term study out of Sweden, that looks at suicidality and gender-affirming care. This physician used buzzwords like “mutilation,” “gender confusion,” and “transgenderism.” He described the use of some puberty blockers as a “public experiment.” 

“No one is served by a delusion,” the plastic surgeon stated at one point, adding that “affirmation therapy is the problem.” In reference to whether transgender youth should see psychiatrists or psychologists, he stressed that therapy is good, but that “We don’t want to affirm them in something that is not true.”

Now, of course, it makes sense that representatives can ask questions of people who appear at public hearings. What’s deeply concerning, however, is that there are, too, a number of physicians and health experts who are in favor of gender-affirming care—but they weren’t answering questions. Basically: Medicine, like many things in life, is not without bias. 

Thankfully, one representative did clarify that they’re speaking to him as though he’s the “premiere expert” on transgender youth, and asked what his specific area is, as well as what his peers and colleagues believe. Basically: Is the physician in front of us arguing the consensus of the medical committee, or is this a fringe opinion? (It’s not the consensus of the medical community, though, sadly, transphobia is also rampant in medicine, so it is far from a solitary perspective.)

“You’re not a pediatrician,” one representative asked, further clarifying. “You don’t necessarily treat gender dysphoria?”

The physician clarified that he does treat children, and noted, “In fact, they even label me as trans-friendly,” adding that he does hair removal as part of his practice. He clarified that if someone came to him for gender dysphoria, he would refer them to a psychologist. 

One representative snapped back against the plastic surgeon on the basis that what they’re really legislating is how people care for their children, as well as the fact that this legislation would make some medical care a literal felony.

Perhaps amplifying how clearly confusing this situation was, one representative asked: “Why in the world is this judiciary and not health? Or somebody who has some background?” There wasn’t a precise answer for that question, but perhaps reinforces why these bills continue to bubble up around the nation, and why people are, frankly, so misinformed. 

“It is terribly hard to be a transgender person in this world, anywhere,” the dad said in reference to Sweden's study on suicidality. That’s sadly, terribly, true—and a big reminder that we need structural, systemic change on every single level. 

Members did not vote on Wednesday. 

You can watch this session below.

Every minute of AOC’s hour-long Instagram video about the pro-Trump insurgency is worth watching

On Tuesday night, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hopped onto an Instagram live video and shared her experience during the pro-Trump insurgency at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday. In a moving address straight to followers (of which more than 100,000 people joined in to listen and watch), the progressive lawmaker said she had a “very close encounter” with the rioters and  “I thought I was going to die.” She repeated the chilling sentiment later in the hour-long video, saying, “I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive.” She did not give more details on the encounter, citing security reasons.

What did she give more details on? Her concerns about sheltering with some Republican lawmakers. Why? Because she was afraid some of them might give up her location or enable chances for her to be hurt or kidnapped by insurgents. Let’s dive more into that horrifying possibility, as well as the lawmaker’s discussion of trauma and political nihilism, below.

“I didn’t even feel safe going to that extraction point because there were QAnon and white supremacist members of Congress who I felt would disclose my location and create opportunities to allow me to be hurt,” Ocasio-Cortez stated. She did not explicitly name the colleagues she thought might expose her to danger. 

"Let me give you a sneak peek,” she stated in an address to Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. “You will never be president. You will never command the respect of this country, never. Never. And you should resign.”

Ocasio-Cortez also stressed that the two conservatives essentially cast their votes in an effort to overturn election votes “not out of genuine belief” but instead out of “political ambition.” She also described Donald Trump as a “traitor to our country,” which, of course, he is.

“I don't want to see the Republican Party talk about blue lives ever again,” Ocasio-Cortez said in reference to a Capitol police officer losing their life during the riot. “This was never about safety for them. It was always a slogan. … Because if they actually care about the rule of law, they would speak up when people break the law."

Ocasio-Cortez also spoke intimately about trauma, saying, “You have all of those thoughts where, at the end of your life, these thoughts come rushing to you. That’s what happened to a lot of us on Wednesday. I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive. And not just in a general sense, but in a very specific sense." She also brought up that in addition to members of Congress, staffers, and even the children of lawmakers, were at the Capitol that day. 

On a personal level, Ocasio-Cortez said she found herself sleeping more in the days after the riot, and that, “to me is telling me that my body is going through something and my brain is trying to heal."

People, as usual, were impressed by the progressive’s ability to connect with people—even at 11 PM on a weeknight.

.@AOC just gave an impassioned speech about impeachment to more than 100,000 people on Instagram at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday night. Her natural political skills, spontaneous eloquence and fluency with social media are so striking, especially at a national moment like this.

— Liam Stack (@liamstack) January 13, 2021

AOC is giving a Gettysburg Address level oration over Instagram live right now "White supremacy is doomed to fail... supremacy is a myth, so they resort to violence"

— Prerna Jagadeesh (@PrernaJagadeesh) January 13, 2021

Watching @AOC’s Instagram live and knowing as it happens that it’ll be featured in history books one day as a piece of important oratory of the moment is really something.

— Amanda Litman (@amandalitman) January 13, 2021

And her transparency was, as ever, moving and important.

Turns out the first moment of real human solidarity I've felt in the past 6 traumatizing days is watching @AOC's unbelievably moving instagram live with a bunch of friends and strangers who feel the same way on twitter at 11PM

— Helen Brosnan (@HelenBrosnan) January 13, 2021

Watching @AOC's instagram live helped me finally recognize all of the anger and grief and fear that's become so commonplace that I don't even notice I'm feeling it anymore. I'm really grateful for that.

— Taylor (@taylorjeanjn) January 13, 2021

AOC almost died the other day and got on Instagram Live to talk to us about trauma and what’s actually happening behind closed doors. Her transparency is a gift and will hopefully save lives pic.twitter.com/prLImsgDFT

— ilana kaplan (@lanikaps) January 13, 2021

In speaking about nihilism in politics, Ocasio-Cortez really hit home with an emotional address, saying, “What claim will you have? That you rule over a destroyed society? That the ashes belong to you?" Those are questions every member of the Trump administration should answer. 

You can also watch snippets of the live stream on YouTube below.

Update: This statement from fellow progressive Squad member Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff Sarah Groh about realizing panic buttons had reportedly been “torn out” of the Congresswoman's office adds another unsettling and chilling element.

According to Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff Sarah Groh, the panic buttons in the Congresswoman’s office were all “torn out—the whole unit.” They don’t know why or who did it. https://t.co/MLhxhi7nUp pic.twitter.com/l7wgoHOJKN

— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) January 13, 2021