Parents of Alabama Trans Youths, LGBT+ Advocates Express Relief as Federal Court Suspends ‘Cruel Law’

Parents of Alabama Trans Youths, LGBT+ Advocates Express Relief as Federal Court Suspends ‘Cruel Law’

Families in Alabama and LGBT+ advocates and healthcare professionals are breathing a momentary sigh of relief after a federal judge partially blocked enforcement of Alabama’s recently passed state law criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

US District Judge Liles C Burke, who was appointed by Donald Trump, issued an injunction to stop the state from banning measures like hormone therapy and puberty blockers for transgender people under 19. a crime – violates the constitutional rights of both transgender children and their parents.

Families “have a fundamental right to direct their children’s medical care,” according to Judge Burke. “This right includes the more specific right to treat your children with transitional medications subject to medically accepted standards.”

The state did not present “credible evidence” in its argument that the treatments are “experimental” in its justification for banning them, a claim that is “hypothesized”. [and] not overly persuasive,” Judge Burke said.

A plaintiff identified as James Zoe, father of Zachary, 13, of Birmingham, among several families with transgender children who have anonymously joined in the legal challenge to state law, said the ruling means the family can “continue to provide our son with with the medical care he needs and nothing could be more important or more of a relief to our family.”

“Alabama is our home and we hope this cruel law cannot force us out of it,” he said in a statement through the Human Rights Campaign. “We are fighting for our son and will continue to fight for him and all transgender youth in Alabama to continue to receive adequate medical care.”

Judge Burke issued the partial injunction after ruling that the state law – which took effect last week – poses an “imminent threat of harm” to the plaintiffs, including their “severe physical and/or psychological harm”.

“The indisputable evidence is that at least [22] Major medical associations in the United States endorse transitional medications as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors,” Judge Burke said.

The decision means that “parents of transgender children in Alabama will continue to be able to make the best healthcare decisions for their families,” according to Jennifer Levi, director of transgender rights projects at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

“It’s an extraordinary relief. Parents should not be punished for wanting to do what is best for their children,” she said.

The decision “has taken a lot of weight off our shoulders,” Jeff Walker, whose family is among the plaintiffs in the case, told the Associated Press.

Her 15-year-old daughter Harleigh said the decision is a “huge stress reliever” as the family determines whether they need to move to another state to continue their care.

The judge’s decision, however, allows other provisions of state law to remain in effect, including a ban on gender-affirming surgeries for minors, which doctors have repeatedly testified do not occur in the state.

Judge Burke also put in place requirements for counselors and other school officials to tell parents if their children reveal they are transgender.

Alabama father Jeff Walker and daughter Harleigh are among plaintiffs in a lawsuit against a state law banning gender-affirming care.

(AP)

Large medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have repeatedly opposed similar laws, arguing that they deny patients and families access to comprehensive, evidence-based care, and risk further stigmatizing already vulnerable youth​​​​ at higher risk of suicide.

A wave of anti-LGBT+ legislation in 2022 is primarily aimed at the health of transgender youth and whether transgender athletes can participate in school sports.

The U.S. Department of Justice also joined in a challenge to Alabama law, arguing in an April 29 complaint that the law “discriminates against transgender minors by unreasonably denying them access to certain forms of necessary medical care.”

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who signed the bill last month, has vowed to appeal the decision.

She said in a May 14 statement that the state “will continue to fight to protect Alabama’s children from these radical, unproven, life-altering drugs despite this temporary legal lockdown.”

Asaf Orr, senior attorney and director of the Transgender Youth Project at the National Lesbian Rights Center, said states should “not criminalize parents and doctors for following medical advice and providing necessary medical treatment.”

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