© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People protest in July 2017 over then US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender people serving in the US military. New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri//
By Maria Caspani
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Transgender minors in Alabama can for now use medicine to transition, a federal judge ruled on Friday evening in an order that blocked part of a state ban on treatments for gender affirmation.
The ruling, a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Liles Burke, was issued less than a week after the law took effect on May 8.
Burke, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump, a Republican, said higher court decisions made it clear that parents have the right to direct their children’s medical care if it meets acceptable standards and that transgender people are protected from discrimination under federal law.
The measure makes it a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison for providing or administering puberty blockers and hormone therapy to transgender and non-binary young people under the age of 19. It also prohibits surgical treatment, which experts say is extremely rare for minors.
Burke left in place the part of the law that prohibits sex-reassignment surgeries and other provisions that prohibit school officials from keeping certain gender identity information secret from parents.
The lawsuit, filed by civil rights groups on behalf of four Alabama families, two doctors and a minister, argues that the ban would cause “immediate and irreparable” harm to plaintiffs and that the measure violates several of their constitutional rights.
The US Department of Justice has joined the case, saying the Alabama law violates the US Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.
“I firmly believe that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl,” Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said after signing the law. last month.
A similar but not as extensive law in Arkansas was blocked by the courts last year before it could go into effect.
“Never before has state law imposed a choice between a possible felony conviction and turning our backs on the fundamental tenets of our Hippocratic oath,” said Morissa Ladinsky, a physician who co-directs a clinic of Sexual Health in Birmingham and witness for the plaintiffs. , said in an interview this week.
Leading medical organizations and mental health professionals say transitioning medical care saves lives by reducing the risk of depression and suicide in transgender and non-binary people.
Transgender rights have emerged as a corner issue in the culture wars ahead of November’s congressional elections. Republican lawmakers have introduced hundreds of bills in state legislatures, the majority of them targeting trans youth.
Many Republicans and conservative activists promote the laws as safeguards for children and parental rights. Opponents, including Democrats and LGBTQ organizations, say the legislation is harmful, unnecessary and would have dire consequences for transgender youth.
According to a survey by non-profit organization The Trevor Project, 93% of transgender and non-binary youth said they were concerned that trans people “are denied access to gender-affirming medical care because of national or local laws.