A federal judge has blocked a new Alabama law that would make it a felony for doctors to give transgender children puberty blockers and hormone treatments.
US District Judge Liles Burke issued the preliminary injunction on Friday, blocking parts of the state’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, which went into effect just last week.
It makes it a felony for doctors to provide puberty blockers, hormone treatments or transition surgery to anyone under the age of 19. Any doctors who are found to have violated the law could face 10 years in prison.
But Burke ruled on Friday that the law may be unconstitutional, and intrudes upon a family’s right to make their own medical decisions.
‘Enjoining the Act upholds and reaffirms the “enduring American tradition” that parents – not the states or federal courts – play the primary role in nurturing and caring for their children,’ he wrote in his decision, according to FOX News.
Still, Alabama State Attorney General Steve Marshall indicated he would appeal the ruling, and Ivey said in a statement this decision is just a ‘temporary road block.’
‘We will continue fighting to protect Alabama’s children rom these radical, unproven, life-altering drugs, despite the temporary legal road block,’ she said. ‘It is especially important while they are at such a vulnerable stage in life.
‘We will continue to uphold our duty to ensure that children are free to grow up into the adults God intended them to be, even with today’s societal pressures and modern culture.’
Federal Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction on Friday, blocking parts of the state’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act from taking effect
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (pictured) had signed the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act into law on April 8, and it went into effect 30 days later
Ivey signed the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act into law on April 8, and it went into effect 30 days later.
Soon after it was signed into law, parents of four transgender minors between the ages of 12 and 17 filed a lawsuit alleging that the law is discriminatory, an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and free speech rights, and intrudes on a family’s medical decision.
They said the puberty blockers and hormones are safe, effective and necessary treatments for children with gender dysphoria, and claim that taking away the medications will cause anxiety and depression, and put the patients at the risk of self-harm and suicide.
Those who backed the Alabama law also acknowledged the distress it could cause, but said a watchful, waiting approach with mental health counseling is the best treatment, according to AL.com.
They argued that medical treatments for gender dysphoria should be limited to adults because of the risks associated with the puberty blockers and hormones, including possible sterility and the loss of sexual function.
The federal Department of Justice joined in on the lawsuit, while 15 states filed briefs in support of the Alabama law – including Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Soon after Ivey signed the bill into law, parents of four transgender minors between the ages of 12 and 17 filed a lawsuit alleging that the law is discriminatory. Supporters of the lawsuit are seen here protesting outside of the Alabama State House
In his decision, though, Burke ruled that attorneys for the state had not provided any credible evidence to prove the medications are ‘experimental.
‘The uncontradicted record evidence is that at least 22 major medical associations in the United States endorse transitioning medications as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors.’
He also cited testimony from one mother who signed onto the lawsuit, who feared her daughter would commit suicide if access to transition medication was blocked.
Still, Burke left in effect part of the law criminalizing transition surgery, after plaintiffs told the judge they were not challenging that provision.
And he left in effect a measure that requires counselors and other school officials to notify parents if a minor reveals they believe they are transgender.
One of the fathers who signed onto the lawsuit hailed Friday’s decision.
‘This ruling means that we will be able to continue providing our child with the medical care he needs, and nothing could be more important or more of a relief to our family,’ James Zoe, of Birmingham, the father of 13-year-old Zachary, said in a statement.
‘Alabama is our home, and we hope this cruel law will not be allowed to force us from it,’ he added. ‘We are fighting for our child, and will continue fighting so that he and all transgender youth in Alabama remain able to receive the appropriate medical care.’
Alabama’s law is the first in the country to criminalize transitioning transgender youth, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has previously passed a law that bans teaching children in kindergarten through third-grade lessons on sexuality, gender identity and sexual orientation
Alabama’s law is the first in the country to criminalize transitioning transgender youth.
A similar law in Arkansas, that would have prevented doctors from providing gender-affirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under the age of 17 was also struck down by a federal judge in July.
Meanwhile, in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been criticized for signing into law a Parental Rights in Education law, which bans teaching children in kindergarten through third-grade lessons on sexuality, gender identity and sexual orientation ‘in a manner that is not age appropriate.’
It has been dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by critics who claim it bans any discussion pertaining to being gay in Florida schools.
One of the major employers in the state, Disney, has sharply criticized the bill, issuing statements saying it ‘should never have passed and should never have been signed into law.
‘Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.
‘We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.’
But the company has now lost its special tax and land privileges in the state, meaning that it will no longer be allowed to self-govern the area around Disney World.
DeSantis claims Disney lied about the content of the education law but he viewed the company’s vow to fight the law as unacceptable.
He said: ‘You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state. We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that.’
What are the new Alabama laws on transgender kids?
Alabama has become the first state to criminalize the use of puberty blockers and hormones to treat transgender people under age 19.
In line with some other Republican-led states, legislators here also passed a law requiring students to use bathrooms corresponding to their sex at birth and prohibiting discussion of gender and sexual identity in the lower grades.
The two bills were signed into law Friday by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, a day after being passed by the Alabama Legislature. Advocacy groups quickly filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the medication ban.
Republicans argue the bills are needed to protect children and that decisions on gender-affirming medications should wait until adulthood. Critics say the politicians are interfering with medical decisions that belong with families and their doctors.
Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, called the two pieces of legislation ‘the single most anti-transgender legislative package in history.’
WHAT DOES THE TREATMENT BAN DO?
Titled the ‘Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act,’ the law makes it a crime to prescribe or administer to anyone under 19 puberty blockers or hormone treatment ‘for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of or affirm the minor´s perception of his or her gender or sex.’
Legislators made it a Class C felony to violate the law, meaning doctors who prescribe or administer such medication would be subject to up to 10 years in prison.
The law, which takes effect on May 8 unless blocked by the courts, also bans surgeries for the purpose of altering gender appearance, but doctors say those are generally not performed on minors.
Alabama’s legislation goes further than measures passed in other states. Arkansas was the first state to pass a ban on gender-affirming drugs, but its measure did not include criminal penalties. The Arkansas law was blocked by a federal judge before it could go into effect.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate as child abuse reports of youth receiving such care.
WHAT ARE THE CRITICISMS?
Doctors, families and advocacy organizations say politicians are inserting themselves into decisions that belong with families and medical teams.
The measures have prompted swift backlash from medical experts, Democratic President Joe Biden´s administration, the U.S. Department of Justice and the families of trans youth.
Doctors say the Alabama law is contrary to peer-reviewed research and applies a criminal label to standard medical care.
Health experts also say that minors with gender dysphoria who do not receive appropriate medical care face dramatically increased risk of suicide and serious depression.
DOES THE LAW DO ANYTHING ELSE?
Yes. The law requires counselors, teachers, principals and other administrators – in both public and private schools – to tell parents if a child discloses that they think they may be transgender. It also prohibits school staff from encouraging students to withhold the information from their parents.
WHAT DOES THE BATHROOM/’DON’T SAY GAY’ LAW DO?
Critics have derided the limitation on such discussions as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law – the second piece of legislation signed by Ivey which involves public school bathroom use and classroom instruction.
The law requires students in grades K-12 to use multi-person bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their sex at birth rather than their gender identity. It also prohibits teachers and others who provide lessons to grades K-5 from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity ‘in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.’
Critics have labeled a similar measure passed in Florida that applies to grades K-3 the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Opponents of the medication ban who filed the lawsuit are hoping a judge will grant their request to block it. A legal challenge is also expected to be filed against the bathroom and classroom-instruction measures.
The U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to states warning that efforts to block transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming care may be violating federal law and the constitutional protections.