MONTGOMERRY, Ala. ( Associated Press) — A federal judge on Friday blocked a section of Alabama law This made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty inhibitors and hormones to transgender minors.
US District Judge Lillees Burke issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state from enforcing the drug ban, which took effect May 8, while a court challenge went ahead. The judge omitted other parts of the law that banned gender-affirming surgery for transgender minors, which doctors certified are not performed on minors in Alabama. They also dropped a provision that requires counselors and other school officials to tell parents if a minor discloses that they believe they are transgender.
The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act punishes transgender minors with up to 10 years in prison for prescribing or administering gender-affirming medication to help them confirm their new gender identity.
Burke ruled that Alabama had offered no credible evidence to show that transfective drugs are “experimental,” while “unexpected record evidence is that at least twenty-two major medical associations in the United States recommend transfusion drugs as well.” has been supported as an established, evidence-based treatment for gender dysphoria in minors.”
Burke wrote in the opinion, “Joining the Act upholds the ‘enduring American tradition’ and reaffirms that parents—state or federal courts—play a primary role in the nurturing and care of their children.”
The law was part of a wave of bills in Republican-controlled states regarding transgender minors, but was the first to impose criminal penalties against doctors who provide drugs. In Arkansas, a judge blocked a similar law before it took effect. The US Department of Justice and four families with transgender children challenged the Alabama law as discriminatory, an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and freedom of speech, and intrusion into family medical decisions.
“This is a great relief to transgender children and their families,” Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, a pediatrician who founded the Birmingham Medical Team that treats children with gender dysphoria, said late Friday.
“The court’s decision recognizes that this is well-established care that has been endorsed by 22 major medical associations. This decision will ensure that transgender children in Alabama and beyond can continue to receive this evidence-based well-known life-saving care “
Alabama Gov. Representative Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall could not immediately be reached for comment late Friday.
The state attorney general’s office argued that drug use is an untenable science, and thus the state’s role is in regulation to protect children. During a court hearing before Burke, state lawyers argued that European countries tend to take a more conservative approach to drugs. Alabama lawmakers who approved the bill this spring said decisions on drugs should wait until adulthood. “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,” Ivey signed into law last month.
The judge said Alabama’s evidence was not persuasive. He mentioned a psychologist who testified that most children out of gender dysphoria never cared for a transgender minor under the age of sixteen. The state’s second witness was a woman who testified that she regretted taking testosterone at the age of 19.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Endocrine Society both support the treatments that clinics here and in other states are providing for transgender youth. More than 20 medical and mental health organizations urged Burke to block the law.