Alabama Democratic legislator Neil Rafferty drew accolades after delivering a blistering speech to his Republican colleagues after they passed a raft of transphobic bills in the state.
Within days of each other, the Alabama legislature passed an anti-trans bathroom bill and a version of Florida's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill that is even more restrictive than the one recently signed by Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
But it was the third bill the Republican legislature passed that ignited Rafferty's ire—one that criminalizes gender-affirming healthcare for transgender people and punishes doctors who provide it with jail time.
Rafferty, who is gay, laid into his colleagues, attacking their ignorance on how transgender healthcare works and their focus on invading trans people's privacy.
Hear his comments below.
In his speech, Rafferty first spoke of his colleagues' obsession with attacking transgender children, which has become the all-consuming focus of Republican politicians all over the country despite scores of other more pressing problems.
“I don’t know how this became a platform issue for y’all."
“I don’t know where it became a central core issue to pick on these kids, to pick on these families... or why y’all think that this is something that we need to vote on—not just vote on, but put off the top of the calendar like it’s a priority.”
Rafferty then laid bare an overwhelmingly common dynamic among right-wing politicians attacking transgender rights—their fundamental misunderstanding of how medical providers treat transgender patients.
“It’s a priority for us to be getting involved in private family medical decisions that are made with a team of healthcare providers... [and] mental health professionals who are guiding them through this process?”
"You want to think you’re just going to a doc-in-a-box or willy-nilly, just getting prescribed this stuff because somebody just said, hey, this is it.”
"That’s not how being transgender works.”
Whether willful or not, Republican politicians repeatedly show a total ignorance of transgender healthcare.
Transitioning is a painstaking process that requires extensive consultation with both doctors and psychotherapists, often over the course of years.
And Republicans' claims they are passing these bills in order to protect children from potentially damaging medical interventions are based on total fallacies.
Surgical interventions on children are illegal, and treatments like hormone therapy and puberty blockers are rarely administered to patients under the age of 16 and are entirely reversible if they are.
Much like the right's legislative obsession with Critical Race Theory in schools, the right's raft of anti-trans legislation tackles problems that do not exist, leading many to accuse the party of simply trying to terrorize transgender people with invasive laws.
Rafferty went on to address this, too, by relating it to his own experience as a gay man.
“Trust me, if I didn’t have to be gay, I wouldn’t be. You know how much easier my freaking life would be? This is personal y’all.”
“I’m trying to appeal to you that this is not small government. This is invasive.”
He then concluded with a directive to his colleagues.
“Just don’t you dare call me a friend after this,”
On Twitter, people applauded Rafferty and joined him in his criticisms of the GOP.
The bill to criminalize transgender healthcare was signed into law by Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey.
LGBTQ+ and civil rights advocacy groups have vowed to challenge it in court.