MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – A federal judge on Friday blocked part of an Alabama law that made it a felony to prescribe gender-confirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors.
U.S. District Judge Liles Burke has issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from enforcing the drug ban, which took effect on May 8, while legal proceedings continue. The judge upheld other parts of the law banning gender-confirming surgery for transgender minors, which doctors testified are not done on minors in Alabama. He has also introduced a provision requiring counselors and other school officials to tell parents if a minor reveals they believe they are transgender.
The Compassion and Protection for Vulnerable Children Act made it a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to prescribe or administer gender-affirming medication to transgender minors to confirm their new gender identity.
Burke ruled that Alabama had not provided credible evidence to show that menopause medications are “experimental,” while “the undeniable record of evidence is that at least twenty-two major medical associations in the United States endorse menopause medications as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in the United States.” minors.”
“The imposition of the law reaffirms and reaffirms the ‘sustainable American tradition’ that parents — not the states or federal courts — play the primary role in raising and caring for their children,” Burke wrote in the op-ed.
The legislation was part of a wave of bills in Republican-controlled states related to transgender minors, but was the first to impose criminal penalties on the doctors dispensing the drugs. In Arkansas, a judge blocked a similar law before it went into effect. The United States Department of Justice and four families with transgender children have challenged the Alabama law as discriminatory, an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and freedom of expression, and an infringement of the family’s medical decisions.
“This is a huge relief for transgender children and their families,” said Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, a pediatrician who has set up a medical team in Birmingham that treats children with gender dysphoria, late Friday.
“The court’s decision recognizes that this is established care approved by 22 major medical associations. This decision will ensure that transgender children in Alabama and beyond can continue to receive this evidence-based known life-saving care.”
Representatives for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall were not immediately available for comment late Friday night.
The state attorney general’s office argued that the use of the drugs is an uncertain science and thus the state plays a role in regulation to protect children. During a court hearing for Burke, state attorneys argued that European countries are being more conservative with the drugs. Alabama lawmakers, who passed the bill this spring, said drug decisions will have to wait until adulthood. “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,” Ivey said when she signed the legislation last month.
The judge said Alabama’s evidence was inconclusive. He noted a psychologist who testified that most children who outgrow gender dysphoria have never cared for a transgender minor under 16. The other state witness was a woman who testified that she regretted taking testosterone at age 19.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Endocrine Society both endorse the treatments that clinics here and in other states provide for transgender youth. More than 20 medical and mental health organizations urged Burke to block the bill.