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Parents of Alabama trans youth and LGBT+ advocates express relief as federal court ends ‘cruel law’

Alabama families and LGBT+ advocates and healthcare providers breathe a momentary sigh of relief after a federal judge partially blocks enforcement of the state of Alabama’s recently passed law criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

US District Judge Liles C Burke, who was appointed by Donald Trump, issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from banning measures such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers for transgender people under 19 years. The court said the state ban — which makes medical treatment a crime — violates the constitutional rights of transgender children and their parents.

Families “have a fundamental right to direct the medical care of their children,” Judge Burke said. “This right includes the more specific right to treat their children with transitional medication subject to medically accepted standards.”

The state has produced no “credible evidence” in its argument that the treatments are “experimental” in its justification for banning them, a claim that is “presumed [and] not extremely convincing,” Judge Burke said.

A plaintiff identified as James Zoe, the father of Zachary, 13, from Birmingham, among several families with transgender children who proceeded anonymously by joining the legal challenge to the state law, said that The decision means the family can “continue to provide our child with the medical care he needs and nothing could be more important or more relief for our family.

“Alabama is our home and we hope this cruel law does not force us into it,” he said in a statement through the Human Rights Campaign. “We are fighting for our child and will continue to fight so that he and all transgender youth in Alabama can continue to receive proper medical care.”

Judge Burke issued the partial injunction after determining that the state law — which went into effect last week — poses an “imminent threat of harm” to the plaintiffs, including their “serious physical and/or or psychological”.

“The uncontradicted evidence is that at least [22] major medical associations in the United States endorse bridging drugs as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors,” Judge Burke said.

The decision means “parents of transgender children in Alabama will continue to be able to make health decisions that are best for their families,” according to Jennifer Levi, director of the transgender rights project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

“It’s an extraordinary relief. Parents should not be punished for wanting to do what is best for their children,” she said.

The decision “took a lot off our shoulders,” Jeff Walker, whose family is among the plaintiffs in the case, told The Associated Press.

Their 15-year-old daughter, Harleigh, said the decision was a “huge stress relief” as the family determines whether she should move to another state to continue her care.

The judge’s decision, however, allows other provisions of state law to remain in place, including the ban on gender-affirming surgeries for minors, which doctors have repeatedly testified that ‘they don’t take place in the state.

Judge Burke also left in place requirements for counselors and other school officials to tell parents if their child comes out as transgender.

Alabama father Jeff Walker and daughter Harleigh are among plaintiffs in a case against a state law banning gender-affirming care.

(AP)

Major medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have repeatedly opposed similar laws, arguing that they deny patients and families access to comprehensive, evidence-based care, and risk to further stigmatize already vulnerable young people at high risk of suicide.

A wave of anti-LGBT+ legislation in 2022 primarily targeted health care for transgender youth and allowing transgender athletes to participate in school sports.

The US Department of Justice has also joined in a challenge to the Alabama law, arguing in an April 29 complaint that the law “discriminates against transgender minors by unjustifiably denying them access to certain forms medically necessary care”.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who signed the bill last month, pledged to appeal the decision.

She said in a May 14 statement that the state “will continue to fight to protect Alabama’s children from these radical, unproven and life-changing drugs, despite this temporary legal roadblock.”

Asaf Orr, senior attorney and director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Transgender Youth Project, said states should “not criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing necessary medical treatment.”


The Independent Gt

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