DOJ sues Alabama over law criminalising gender-affirming care for transgender youth

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed bill into law this month making it a felony to provide medical treatments to transgender young people

Rachel Sharp
Saturday 30 April 2022 18:19
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The US Department of Justice is suing the state of Alabama over its first-in-the-nation law that criminalises gender-affirming care for transgender children.

The DOJ filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Alabama on Friday alleging that the law violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by discriminating against people “on the basis of sex and transgender status”.

Earlier this month, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 184 into law making it a felony to provide certain medical treatments to transgender people under the age of 19.

Under the new law, parents or doctors who prescribe puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries to transgender youth now face up to 10 years in prison.

The law made Alabama the first state in the US to threaten prosecution to people providing medical care to young transgender people and comes amid a wave of anti-LGBT+ laws sweeping the red states.

In the lawsuit filed on Friday, the DOJ asked the court to block the law and to issue an immediate order stopping it from going into effect.

The suit says that the new law “denies necessary medical care to children based solely on who they are” making it a direct violation of the 14th Amendment on the grounds of equal protection.

“The law discriminates against transgender minors by unjustifiably denying them access to certain forms of medically necessary care,” the suit claims.

“While criminalizing certain forms of medically necessary gender-affirming care for transgender minors, S.B. 184 permits all other minors to access the same procedures and treatments.”

The law means that medical professionals, parents and minors old enough to make their own medical decisions are now forced to choose between either forgoing medically necessary procedures and treatments or facing criminal prosecution, the suit claims.

“All people, including transgender youth, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” it states.

Back on 9 April when she signed the bill into law, Governor Ivey said that she wanted to ensure children “properly develop into the adults God intended them to be”.

“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,” she said.

“We should especially protect our children from these radical, life-altering surgeries when they are at such a vulnerable stage in life.

“Instead, let us all focus on helping them to properly develop into the adults God intended them to be.”

The Republican also signed into law a bill banning transgender students from using school bathrooms that do not match the gender they were assigned at birth.

It also bans schools from having discussions about gender and sexual idenity in the lower grades.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing the Don’t Say Gay Bill into law in March

The new laws have been slammed by LGBT+ activists with the Human Rights Campaign calling the two bills “the single most anti-transgender legislative package in history”.

Alabama is just one of several Republican states currently dismantling the rights of transgender people and other members of the LGBT+ community.

More than 300 pieces of legislation have been introduced in states so far in 2022 targeting LGBT+ rights around transgender student athletes, healthcare for transgender young people and classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law back in March, banning discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools across the state.

At least a dozen other states have also introduced similar laws.

Over in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott directed state agencies to investigate families with transgender children.

A court placed an injunction on his order, which the Republican attorney general is now appealing.

In March, the DOJ sent a letter to all state attorneys general reminding them of federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender people from discrimination.

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