MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Families with transgender teens sued the state of Alabama in federal court on Monday to overturn a law that makes it a crime for doctors to treat trans youth under 19 with puberty blockers or hormones to help affirm their gender identity.
The two lawsuits — one on behalf of two families and another on behalf two families and the physicians who treat their children— pose legal challenges to legislation signed into law Friday by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey.
“Transgender youth are a part of Alabama, and they deserve the same privacy, access to treatment, and data-driven health care from trained medical professionals as any other Alabamian,” Tish Gotell Faulks, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said in a statement. Faulks added that lawmakers are using children, as, “political pawns for their reelection campaigns.” Ivey and legislators face primaries next month.
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The Alabama law, unless blocked by the courts, will go into effect on May 8. It is now a crime for any doctor to prescribe hormones or puberty blocks to help in gender transition to anyone younger than 19. Any violation could result in up to 10 year imprisonment. Although doctors informed lawmakers that gender transition surgery is not allowed in Alabama, it also bars the practice of performing them on minors.
“The level of legislative overreach into the practice of medicine is unprecedented. And never before has legislative overreach come into pediatric examination rooms to shut down the parent voice in medical decision making between a parent, their pediatrician and their child,” Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, a medical provider and a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits, told The Associated Press in an interview.
Ivey signed legislation Friday morning, one day after the Alabama Legislature approved it. The governor invoked faith when she was asked why she signed the legislation Monday at a campaign stop.
A rally was held at the Alabama State House by opponents of several transgender-related bills to bring attention to antitransgender legislation in Alabama, which was passed in Montgomery, Alabama.
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“If the good Lord made you a boy at birth, then you are a boy. If the good Lord made you a girl at birth, then you are a girl,” she said. “We should especially focus our efforts on helping these young people become healthy adults just like God wanted them to be rather than self-induced medical intervenors.”
Asked if the law would survive a court challenge, she replied, “We’ll wait and see.”
Two medical professionals and advocacy groups filed two lawsuits on behalf families of transgender children. Because of their age, the children weren’t identified in these lawsuits.
“I know that I am a girl and I always have been,” one of the 15-year-old plaintiffs said in a statement provided by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama. “Even before I learned the word ‘transgender’ or met other trans people, I knew myself.”
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In one of the lawsuits, parents described their fears that their transgender daughter, called “Mary Roe” in the suit, would harm herself or try to commit suicide if she loses access to the puberty blockers she began taking last year. “For Mary to be forced to go through male puberty would be devastating; it would predictably result in her experiencing isolation, depression, anxiety, and distress,” the lawsuit states.
Although similar legislation has been introduced in several other states, Alabama’s law is the first one to criminalize doctors.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the state’s child welfare agency to investigate as abuse reports of gender-confirming care for kids. Arkansas law bans the use of gender-affirming medication. A court has blocked this law.
Ivey also signed an additional measure, which required students to use bathrooms aligned with the original birth certificate. This prohibits them from teaching gender or sexual identity between kindergarten and fifth grades.
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