MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AFP) – A federal judge on Friday blocked part of a file Alabama law That made it a crime to prescribe puberty blockers and gender-confirming hormones to transgender minors.
U.S. District Court Judge Lills Burke issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from enforcing the drug ban, which took effect May 8, while the court moves forward. The judge left in place other parts of the law banning gender confirmation surgeries for transgender minors, which doctors testified was not performed on minors in Alabama. It also left out a clause requiring counselors and other school officials to tell parents if a minor reveals they believe they are transgender.
The Empathy and Protection for Vulnerable Children Act made it a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for prescribing or administering gender-confirming medication to transgender minors to help confirm their new gender identity.
Burke ruled that Alabama has provided no credible evidence to show that transitional drugs are “experimental” while “the standard, non-contradictory evidence is that at least twenty-two major medical societies in the United States endorse transitional drugs as well-established and evidence-based.” Treatments for gender dysphoria with minors.”
Burke wrote in the opinion that “the Ordinance upholds and reaffirms the ‘enduring American tradition’ that parents–not state or federal courts–play the primary role in the care and welfare of their children.”
The legislation was part of a wave of bills in Republican-controlled states regarding transgender minors, but it was the first to impose criminal penalties on doctors who provide medication. In Arkansas, a judge blocked a similar law before it could go into effect. The US Department of Justice and four families with transgender children challenged the Alabama law as discriminatory and unconstitutional infringement of equal protections and free speech rights and interference in family medical decisions.
“This is a huge relief for transgender children and their families,” Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, a pediatrician who founded a medical team in Birmingham that treats children with gender dysphoria, said late Friday.
The court’s decision acknowledges that this is a well-established care endorsed by 22 major medical societies. This decision will ensure that transgender children in Alabama and beyond can continue to receive this evidence-based, life-saving care.”
Representatives of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall could not immediately be reached for comment late Friday night.
The state attorney general’s office argued that drug use is an unstable science, and therefore the state has a role in regulating to protect children. During a court hearing before Burke, state lawyers argued that European countries were taking a more conservative approach to medicines. Alabama lawmakers, who approved the bill this spring, said decisions about drugs should wait until adulthood. “I firmly believe that if God made you a boy, you’re a boy, and if God makes you a girl, you’re a girl,” Ivy said when she signed the legislation last month.
The judge said Alabama’s evidence was not convincing. He referred to a psychiatrist who testified that most children out of gender dysphoria had never cared for a transgender minor under the age of sixteen. The other witness in the state was a woman who testified that she regretted taking testosterone at age 19.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Endocrinology Association endorse treatments provided by clinics here and in other states for transgender youth. More than 20 mental health and medical organizations have urged Burke to block the law.