Families in Alabama and LGBT+ advocates and health care providers 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. .
U.S. District Judge Liles C Burke, an appointee of Donald Trump, issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from banning measures like hormone therapy and puberty blockers for transgender people under the age of 19. The court said the state’s ban — which makes medical treatments a felony — violates the constitutional rights of both transgender children and their parents.
Families “have a fundamental right to direct the health care of their children,” according to Justice Burke. “This right includes the more specific right to treat their children with transition 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 “hypothesis [and] not overly persuasive,” Justice Burke said.
A plaintiff identified as James Zoe, the father of 13-year-old Zachary of Birmingham, among several families with transgender children who proceeded anonymously in joining the legal challenge to state law, said the ruling means the family can “continue to providing our son with the medical care he needs and nothing could be more important or a greater relief to our family.”
“Alabama is our home and we hope that this cruel law does not force us to leave it,” he said in a statement through the Human Rights Campaign. “We are fighting for our son and will continue to fight so that he and all transgender youth in Alabama can receive proper health care.”
Judge Burke issued the partial injunction after determining that the state law, which took effect last week, poses an “imminent threat of harm” to the plaintiffs, including their “serious physical and/or psychological harm.”
“The incontrovertible evidence is that at least  Major medical associations in the United States endorse transitional medications as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors,” Justice Burke said.
The ruling means that “parents of transgender children in Alabama will continue to be able to make the health care decisions that are best for their families,” according to Jennifer Levi, director of the transgender rights project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.
“It is an extraordinary relief. Parents should not be punished for wanting to do what is best for their children,” she said.
The ruling “takes 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 if they need to move to another state to continue her care.
However, the judge’s ruling allows other provisions in state law to remain, including a ban on gender-affirming surgeries for minors, which doctors have repeatedly testified are not performed in the state.
Judge Burke also established requirements for counselors and other school officials to inform parents if their children come out as transgender.
Major medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have repeatedly opposed similar laws, arguing that they deny patients and their families access to comprehensive, evidence-based care and risk further stigmatizing patients. young people who are already vulnerable and have a higher risk of suicide.
A wave of anti-LGBT+ legislation in 2022 has primarily targeted health care for transgender youth and whether transgender athletes can participate in school sports.
The US Department of Justice also joined a challenge to the Alabama law, arguing in a complaint issued on April 29 that the law “discriminates against transgender minors by unreasonably denying them access to certain forms of medically sensitive care.” necessary”.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who signed the bill into law last month, vowed to appeal the ruling.
She said in a statement on May 14 that the state “will continue to fight to protect Alabama’s children from these radical, unproven, life-altering drugs, despite this temporary legal hurdle.”
Asaf Orr, senior attorney and director of the Transgender Youth Project at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said states “should not criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing necessary medical treatment.”