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US court partially blocks Alabama's gender-affirmation ban

May 14, 2022

An Alabama ban on the provision of gender-affirming medication for minors has been blocked by a federal judge. Transgender rights have become a bone of contention for right-wing Republicans.

A woman holding up a sign that reads "We Love Our Trans Youth" during a rally at the Alabama State House in Montgomery
Several medical organizations called for the anti-transgender bill to be blockedImage: Julie Bennett/AFP

A US district court issued an injunction on Friday partially blocking an Alabama law that criminalizes the prescription of hormone therapies and puberty blockers used to align transgender people's bodies with their gender identity.

The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act came into effect in the southern state on May 8, not only banning medication treatments for gender dysphoria but also gender-affirming surgeries. Those convicted of violating the ban face up to 10 years in prison.

Judge Liles Burke left in place the latter part of the ban but ruled that the state had not been able to prove that medications used for transitioning were "experimental."

The injunction will remain in effect pending a trial to decide whether the law is in violation of the constitution.

Unconstitutional law

In his ruling, Burke said that "the uncontradicted evidence is that at least twenty-two major medical associations in the United States endorse transitioning medications as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors."

These medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Endocrine Society, called on Burke to block the Alabama law.

He said that the provisions in the law are likely unconstitutional. The US Department of Justice, as well as several families with transgender children, have challenged the law, calling it a violation of equal protection and free speech rights, as well as an intrusion into a family's right to make medical decisions.

"Parents have a fundamental right to direct the medical care of their children subject to accepted medical standards," Burke said, adding that "discrimination based on gender non-conformity equates to sex discrimination."

Backlash against transgender rights

The law, introduced by Republican lawmakers in the traditionally conservative state, is part of an ongoing battle over the recognition of transgender rights in the US.

Another part of the law that was not blocked by Burke's injunction was the requirement for schools to inform parents if a child says that they think they are transgender.

A similar law in Arkansas was blocked before it could come into effect, while another law in Texas that allowed authorities to investigate parents of transgender children for so-called "child abuse" was blocked in March.

Arkansas passes anti-trans bill

However, on Friday the Texas Supreme Court overturned this injunction, allowing the investigations to once again go ahead.

The slate of legislation against transgender rights has coincided with increasing limitations on abortion rights in some US states.

ab/wd (AFP, AP)