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Alabama transgender youth can use medicine during transition -judge

WorldMay 14, 2022 09:55AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People protest in July 2017 against then-U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. New York City, New York, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri//

By Maria Caspani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Transgender minors in Alabama for now can use medicine to transition, a federal judge said late on Friday in an order that blocked 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 made clear that parents have the right to direct the medical care of their children if it meets acceptable standards and that transgender people are protected against discrimination under federal law.

The measure makes it a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison to provide or administer puberty blockers and hormone therapy to transgender and nonbinary youth under 19. It also outlaws surgical treatments that experts say are extremely rare for minors.

Burke left in place the part of the law that bans sex-altering surgeries and other provisions that prohibit school officials from keeping certain gender-identity information secret from parents.

The lawsuit, brought by civil rights groups on behalf of four Alabama families, two physicians and a minister, argues that the ban would cause "immediate and irreparable" harm to the plaintiffs and that the measure violates several of their constitutional rights.

The U.S. Department of Justice has joined the case, saying that the Alabama law violates the U.S. 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 law last month.

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

"Never before has a state law mandated a choice between a potential felony conviction versus turning our back on the basic tenets of our Hippocratic oath," Morissa Ladinsky, a physician who co-runs a gender health clinic in Birmingham and a witness for the plaintiffs, said in an interview this week.

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 nonbinary individuals.

Transgender rights have emerged as a wedge issue in the culture wars ahead of the November congressional elections. Republican lawmakers have introduced hundreds of bills across state legislatures, the majority of them directed at 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 on transgender youth.

According to a survey by non-profit The Trevor Project, 93% of transgender and nonbinary youth said they have worried about trans people "being denied access to gender-affirming medical care due to state or local laws."

The ruling to block part of the Alabama law was "an extraordinary relief," said Jennifer Levi, director of the GLAAD Transgender Rights Project. "Parents should not be punished for wanting to do what's best for their kids."

Alabama transgender youth can use medicine during transition -judge

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Comments (2)
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins May 14, 2022 11:31AM ET
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The GOP should involve itself in all legal matters concerning ones health. Only they can make the best decisions for them and then apply that to all people according to their religion and hate.
Steven Kilgore
Steven Kilgore May 14, 2022 9:50AM ET
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Don’t get politicians sometimes… You are to young and immature to make a decision to smoke, drink, join the military, etc. But hay you can make a medical decision to permanently change your body that is irreversible. Personally, with parental consent, i could care less, as long as when the child recives the treatment they sign away any future rights to sue if they have regrets. Also, the child/parents have to sign away future rights to have the state/federal government pay to reverse said treatment. If the child/parent signs away those rights then have at it in my book.
Patron Silver
Patron Silver May 14, 2022 9:50AM ET
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the law was not written to be about liability but about more and more repub overreach into families lives.
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