July 14, 2024


Veteran Baby Makers

Alabama teen visits White House for Transgender Day of Visibility

An Auburn teenager and her father went to the White House Thursday and meet federal officials on the national Transgender Day of Visibility.

“Just being invited was a huge honor,” said Harleigh Walker, who turned 15 during her trip to Washington, D.C. “It can be hard to feel accepted by your peers and your community. But me and other trans kids around the world are fighting as hard as we can to get this stopped.”

Jeff Walker, who with his daughter has advocated against Alabama legislation that would limit transgender student access to bathrooms and medical treatment, said he hoped to increase the visibility of transgender children and families from across the country.

“I wanted to ensure that anyone who would listen could hear about the plight of us here in Alabama,” he said.

Walker said both HB322, which would restrict school bathroom and locker room access to children who had the same sex on their birth certificates, and SB184, which would limit gender-affirming healthcare for children, would negatively impact his family.

“They’re saying that this is to keep children safe,” he said of the bathroom bill, “but this is doing nothing but making my child more unsafe.”

He said his family might be split across different states if Harleigh can’t access gender-affirming medical care in Alabama.

Proponents of the bills have said they are needed to “prevent child abuse” and that medical treatments need more study before they are recommended for children.

Neither bill currently is scheduled to be taken up during the final days of the 2022 session.

Thursday, Biden’s administration also posted several reference letters and notices about different ways officials intend to strengthen protections for LGBTQ people and children.

“State laws and policies that prevent parents or guardians from following the advice of a healthcare professional regarding what may be medically necessary or otherwise appropriate care for transgender minors may infringe on rights protected by both the Equal Protection and the Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the letter stated.

Other resources state the Biden administration’s position that counseling, hormone treatment and, if medically necessary, physical surgery are protected standards of care. Alabama physicians who treat children with gender dysphoria have said they do not recommend surgery before someone is 18 and consider the opinions of a child’s parent and support team.

Last year, Arkansas became the first state to ban treatments and surgery for transgender youth. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state on behalf of four transgender youths and their families and two doctors who provide the treatments. A federal judge blocked enforcement of the law, finding that it would harm the youth currently receiving the treatments and that plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their lawsuit, the AP reported. The state is appealing.