Alabama ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youth goes into effect

Alabama is now the only state in the country where doctors can be charged with a crime for prescribing or administering puberty-blocking drugs or hormone treatment to young transgender people under the age of 19 after a new law came into effect at the weekend.

The ban was met with legal challenges last month on behalf of medical providers and families in the state, cases that have been both voluntarily fall. A new lawsuit, again filed by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and others, argues that the law violates the 14th and 1st Amendments. The groups have requested that Alabama’s ban be temporarily halted, but a federal judge has yet to grant that request. As the law went into effect on Sunday, U.S. District Judge Liles Burke wrote in a procedural court update that he expects to file an opinion by the end of the week.

Anyone who prescribes or administers puberty-blocking medication or hormone therapy to a minor to treat gender dysphoria or as part of a gender-affirming care regimen – who is supported by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics — committed a Class C felonythe new Alabama law stipulates, potentially exposing offenders to a prison sentence of at least one year or up to ten years.

Arkansas is the only other state to successfully bar trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care, but its law was stalled in federal court before it could go into effect. Arkansas appealed that decision at the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit earlier this year. Arkansas’ straight also did not declare that providing the care was a crime. While other states tried to pass crime bans within the last years, these bills were stalled in committee or died altogether.

Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who provides gender-affirming care to trans youth in Alabama and surrounding states, said her clinic prescribed the necessary medications to existing patients before this Sunday – the 30-day mark when the law, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last month, went into effect.

“For many young people who are currently receiving these drugs, it would be medically contraindicated to stop them abruptly. It would also be totally unethical to do so,” she said. “So we made sure that the refills were already at the pharmacy before the law came into force. However, while it is in effect, we cannot and will not issue new prescriptions. Ladinsky is serving as a material witness for the Alabama ban lawsuit and testified on behalf of the plaintiffs last week, and was named as a plaintiff in an earlier ban lawsuit.

The lawsuit was brought by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), along with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Human Rights Campaign.

Scott McCoy, acting deputy legal director for LGBTQ rights and special litigation at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who is representing the plaintiffs in the case, Burke believes allowing the law to go into effect Sunday doesn’t necessarily mean an injunction isn’t on the table.

“It just told me he needed more time,” McCoy said.

There are different forms a potential injunction could take, he said, including narrowing the scope of who can be sued under Alabama law to apply only to doctors or the conclusion that the entire ban is unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs are waiting to see ‘whether or not the judge presses the pause button’ on enforcement, which various LGBTQ+ civil rights groups say violates the 14th and First Amendments, as the case goes to trial, McCoy said.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, representing the state in the case, criticized the Biden administration’s stance in favor of gender-affirming care, specifically calling out the Justice Department after the agency warned states last month that preventing trans youth from accessing care could violate the federal government. straight.

“The Biden administration has chosen to prioritize leftist politics over the children of Alabama,” he said in an emailed statement.

Alabama’s ban on gender-affirming care also requires school counselors and teachers to notify parents if their children come out as transgender or gender non-conforming. — which worries some students in the state.

Dina Marble, a counselor for middle and high school students in Birmingham, said a 15-year-old pupil told her on Monday he was so anxious about the law that he had only had three hours’ sleep the night before.

“His mind was going through all the scenarios and options. He was considering going back to the closet at school,” Marble said via text message. The student also finds ways to explain himself to his parents if a teacher calls home to tell his parents he’s transgender.

“At the end of the day, he feels threatened and in danger,” she said. “He feels like he can’t be himself at home and fears he won’t be accepted at home or at church if they find out.”