• Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Alabama’s ban on medical treatment for transgender minors begins today

ByMadeleine J. Pierce

May 8, 2022

A new Alabama law banning certain medical treatments for minors with gender dysphoria goes into effect today unless a federal judge grants a request for a temporary stay while a trial is pending.

U.S. District Judge Liles Burke said Friday he and his staff were spending all their time preparing an order, but did not say how or when he would rule.

Today, Burke issued an order on secondary issues in the case and said he expected to file notice this week.

“This is a complicated case that raises complex and important issues and consists of several hundred pages of briefing and exhibits,” the judge wrote. “The Court has made very substantial progress in developing an opinion on this case and expects to file the opinion by the end of this week, if not sooner.”

Alabama’s law is the first in the country to go into effect. The Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act makes it a crime to provide puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery to help transgender minors, people under 19, transition towards the sex with which they identify. Violators of the law would face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill April 8, a day after it was passed by the Alabama legislature. It takes effect 30 days after its signature, i.e. May 8.

The parents of four transgender youths aged 12 to 17 have filed a lawsuit claiming the law will deny their children access to established medical care that is safe, effective and necessary. They say it violates federal law and the Constitution. They are joined in the case by a child psychologist who counsels transgender youth at UAB Hospital, a pediatrician and a pastor. The US Department of Justice opposes the law and has joined the case.

The plaintiffs asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement while the case is pending in an effort to block it permanently.

Judge Burke held a three-day hearing last week, hearing testimony from plaintiffs, the state and the DOJ. The parties filed briefs and witness statements in support of their positions.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and his attorneys defend the law. The state and its expert witnesses recognize that young people with gender dysphoria face intense stress and a higher risk of depression and suicide. But they say medical interventions should only be available to adults because of the risks and uncertainty about the long-term consequences of treatments, such as loss of sexual function and infertility, which minors may regret. adulthood. They say a watchful and expectant approach with mental health counseling is the best course for minors.

At the end of Friday’s hearing, Burke asked attorneys for all parties to begin preparing for trial. The judge said he expected an expedited case, which he said meant in about six months.

Last year, Arkansas became the first state to ban medical treatment for transgender youth. A federal judge temporarily blocked the law in July, a week before it took effect.

Jeffrey Doss, plaintiffs’ attorney in the Alabama case, said they don’t challenge the ban on surgeries performed to help transgender minors transition. During discussions of the bill in the Legislature, Alabama doctors said no such surgeries were performed in the state.

Alabama lawmakers passed the bill on the last day of this year’s legislative session. It was the third year the bill had been introduced and debated with public hearings that filled committee rooms with opponents and supporters of the law and rallies at the State House by opponents of the law.

Read more: Alabama doctors rush to get appointments and prescriptions for trans kids before ban takes effect.

Read more: Alabama clergy sign letter of support for transgender children.