Alabama transgender youth can use drugs during transition, judge rules

People protest in July 2017 against then-US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to reintroduce the ban on transgender people from serving in the US military. New York City, New York, US, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri//File Photo

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WASHINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) – Transgender minors in Alabama can take drugs to transition for now, a federal judge said late Friday in an order blocking part of a state ban on gender-affirming treatments.

The ruling, a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Liles Burke, was issued less than a week after the law went into effect on May 8.

Burke, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, a Republican, said higher court rulings make it clear that parents have the right to direct medical care for their children if it meets acceptable standards, and that transgender people are protected from discrimination. under federal law.

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The measure makes it a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison for administering or administering puberty blockers and hormone therapy to transgender and non-binary young people under the age of 19. It also bans surgical treatments that experts say are extremely rare for minors.

Burke upheld the portion of the law that prohibits sex reassignment surgery 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 the plaintiffs and that the measure violates some of their constitutional rights.

The US Department of Justice has joined the case, saying Alabama’s law violates the US Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

“I believe very strongly 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 Governor Kay Ivey said after signing the bill last month. .

A similar but not so far-reaching law in Arkansas was blocked by the courts last year before it could go into effect.

“Never before has a state law imposed a choice between a possible conviction for a crime or turning back from the basic tenets of our Hippocratic Oath,” Morissa Ladinsky, a physician who runs a gender clinic in Birmingham and a witness for the plaintiffs, said this week in an interview.

Major medical organizations and mental health professionals say transition-related medical care saves lives by reducing the risk of depression and suicide in transgender and non-binary individuals.

Transgender rights have emerged as a wedge in the culture wars ahead of the November congressional elections. Republican lawmakers have submitted hundreds of bills to the state legislature, most of which target 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 serious consequences for transgender youth.

According to a survey by nonprofit The Trevor Project, 93% of transgender and non-binary youth said they are concerned that transgender people “are denied access to gender-affirming medical care because of state or local laws.”

The ruling to block part of the law in Alabama was “an extraordinary relief,” said Jennifer Levi, director of the GLAAD Transgender Rights Project. “Parents should not be punished for wanting to do what is best for their children.”

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Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York; Additional coverage by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Grant McCool and Mark Porter

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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