A federal judge in Alabama has temporarily blocked part of a law making it a criminal offense to prescribe puberty blockers and hormone therapy to transgender minors.
Judge Liles Burke, a district court judge appointed by Donald Trump in 2017, found no evidence to support Alabama lawmakers’ claims that they were banning “experimental” procedures. “[T]The uncontested evidence is that at least twenty-two major medical associations in the United States approve the transition of established, evidence-based drugs and treatments for gender dysphoria in children, ”Burke wrote.
The decision to issue a preliminary injunction suggests that Burke will permanently block limits on Alabama doctors when he issues a final ruling on the case. The judge left other parts of the Alabama law, including a section requiring school officials to tell parents if a student claims to be transgender. He also supported a section banning gender-affirming surgeries for minors that doctors have claimed in court are not performed in Alabama.
In his injunction, Burke framed state law as an unwarranted violation of parental rights. “The injunction of the law upholds and reaffirms the ‘enduring American tradition’ that parents, not federal states or courts, play the primary role in nurturing and caring for their children,” she wrote.
Alabama law sought to impose up to 10 years in prison for doctors who violate it. It was the first in the nation to impose criminal penalties on doctors who prescribe such drugs, the Associated Press reported. Like my colleague Noah Y Kim he wrote before it became law:
The bill comes amid a wave of anti-trans legislation that has swept conservative states from Arizona to Texas, sparking widespread alarm among medical experts and the transgender community… But even at a time of growing anti-trans sentiment, the Alabama bill stands out as extreme … doctors providing hormone treatment, puberty blockers, and gender reassignment surgery to minors would be threatened with a felony charge lasting up to a decade in prison.
Friday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that state may continue to investigate families seeking gender-affirming care for their children. At the same time, the court decided in favor of one of the first families contacted by Texas Child Protection Service officials under the new policy.
One of the plaintiffs in the Alabama case, father of a 13-year-old transgender boy from Birmingham, served Burke’s ruling in a statements shared by the Human Rights Campaign. “Alabama is our home and we hope this cruel law won’t force us to abandon it,” said James Zoe, a pseudonym to protect him and his son’s safety and privacy. “We are fighting for our son and will continue to fight so that he and all transgender youth in Alabama can receive adequate medical care.”