- Parents of trans kids in Alabama are making frantic attempts to flee the state.
- Anti-trans legislation that goes into effect May 8 bans doctors from providing gender-affirming healthcare, among other things.
- Parents told Insiders that their children need access to gender-affirming healthcare.
Heather had a plan.
The 48-year-old mother moved from Pennsylvania to Alabama last July with her two sons to settle down, live a little closer to her extended family, and make sure — for the first time — that her eldest son, 15, would attend public school after a lifetime of home-schooling.
After making the journey down South, Heather enrolled her son, who is trans, at the Magic City Acceptance Academy — a charter school in Birmingham, Alabama, which prides itself on promoting an “LGBT-affirming learning environment.”
Now, Heather has to reconsider life in Alabama.
Gov. Kay Ivey recently signed into law an anti-trans bill, known as SB 184, which criminalizes doctors for providing gender-affirming medical care to children. It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The bill, which critics say also forces teachers to out trans kids, is planned to go into effect May 8. Two federal lawsuits have been filed against it.
But Heather said she’s not waiting around for a judge to make a decision. She decided to uproot the life she’s spent nine months building with her sons de ella in Alabama in favor of safety elsewhere.
“I had planned to stay here the rest of my life,” she said. “But knowing that the state of Alabama does not want us here, that pretty much made up my mind that we need to leave.”
Heather and her son, like the other parents and youth who spoke to Insider for this article, asked to only be identified by their first name or initial — citing safety concerns and fear of retribution.
In a phone interview, her son, who asked to be identified as R, told Insider he was looking forward to attending Magic City. He said he had already made friends with students there by connecting with students on
. But now he has to look at potential schools elsewhere.
“I kind of wish people would just imagine what it would be like to go through the wrong puberty, he said. “It doesn’t make sense why so many people are so against people just trying to be themselves and live.”
Heather set up a GoFundMe to cover moving expenses. So far, the family has raised a little over $8,000 out of a $30,000 goal.
She worries that if she stays in Alabama, she’ll have to choose between making sure her kids can live happy, fulfilling lives and following the law.
“How long before they come for us? I could be charged with a felony,” she said. “And my kids need me. I don’t want to put them in a position where they don’t have me.”
In Alabama, hostility and fear force tough decisions for kids and parents
Kim, another Alabama parent, told Insider her 12-year-old daughter had just started hormone therapy in January.
When Ivey signed SB 184 into law, the family started a GoFundMe asking for donations to help them move to Massachusetts, where several hospitals offer gender-affirming care for her daughter. She has already surpassed her GoFundMe goal of $30,000.
Her daughter began transitioning when she was 6. At a school in New Hampshire, her daughter told her first-grade teacher at the time that “she wanted to die because she was tired of everybody calling her a boy,” the 33-year-old old mother said.
“We took her to her pediatrician and a psychologist and they all said, ‘Follow her lead,'” Kim continued. “So we did.”
Before she began transitioning, she told Kim she didn’t want to cut her hair short and asked if she could wear sparkly shoes and dresses to school. Kids used to bully her for dressing up in girl clothes.
But, she became “exponentially happier” after transitioning, Kim said.
Now she attends school online, where nobody knows she’s trans, Kim said. But she worries that SB 184, which will force teachers to out trans students to parents, will create a negative, anti-trans environment for her child in Alabama.
“She doesn’t feel like she should have to hide it,” Kim said. “But at the same time, she doesn’t feel like she has to announce it to everybody.”
“She has to live cautiously,” Kim added.
Julián, a 17-year-old student in Alabama, told Insider only his dad is supportive of his trans identity. Now, his high school has become a potentially unsafe place for him.
After SB 184, teachers who know he’s trans have been pulling him aside at school and asking if he’s okay. One teacher told him she loves him and her de ella other trans students and ella “just wants us to be OK,” Julián wrote in an email to Insider.
He said he’s been wondering which teacher will eventually inform his mom, who’s not supportive of his trans identity. Julián has an appointment with an endocrinologist scheduled for December 2022. But now he’s not sure whether he’ll be able to go.
“School was once a safe place for me, but now I just feel paranoid,” he said.
Other families are carefully evaluating the decision to flee. One GoFundMe user is asking for donations to help finance their healthcare costs and help them leave Alabama.
Jess Eisenberg, a 38-year-old parent of a 5-year-old gender-diverse child, also told Insider she has considered moving out of state.
“We’ve talked about moving to Seattle or back to Chicago,” she told Insider. “Housing prices are insane right now, so we keep taking deep breaths to see if we can wait this out.”