The Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on Monday that two Alabama families have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Vulnerable Child Protection Act.
The legislature recently passed the law to protect minors from irreversible experimental treatments to change a child’s gender. The law includes criminal penalties for doctors and other medical professionals who provide the banned medications and surgeries to minor children. Those penalties could include up to 10 years in prison.
Reporters asked Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) about the lawsuit on Monday afternoon.
Ivey said that she has not seen the lawsuit but said: “Our young people today are facing many challenges in the world we live in and it's just sad that we have to be facing this situation now; but you know, if the good Lord made you a boy at birth you are a boy. If the good Lord made you a girl at birth, then you are a girl. We should especially work, focus our efforts on helping these young people become healthy adults just like God wants them to be, rather than self-induced medical intervenors, so we'll wait and see about the lawsuit and have some comments later on after we've read it.”
The law bans giving children puberty blockers, high levels of the other gender’s sex hormones, and surgeries in order to change the biological sex of a child. Medical organizations and doctors who support these treatments claim that transgender children who receive these experimental treatments when they are young have better mental health outcomes and report fewer cases of depression, self-harm, and suicide or attempted suicide.
There is nothing in the law that prevents children from receiving sex change treatments once they reach age 19. Doctors are free to perform any of these treatments and procedures on adults.
The families represented in the lawsuit claim that they are being denied medically necessary care that would be devastating for the mental and physical health of their adolescent children. The lawsuit alleges that the new Alabama law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Carl Charles is the senior attorney for Lambda Legal.
“The only controversy in providing lifesaving gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Alabama is the one fabricated by Gov. Ivey and the legislators that made this despicable bill into law,” said Charles. “Instead of solving actual problems and dedicating taxpayer dollars to improving the lives of the people of their state, our opponents chose to demonize transgender young people and criminalize the doctors, parents, and communities that support them. And because of our lawsuit, Governor Ivey will spend taxpayer dollars to defend this foolish and clearly unconstitutional law.”
Jeff and Lisa Walker claim that if their son, who wants to be their daughter. is cut off from doctor-prescribed health care, the family will have to move away from Alabama, separating H.W. from an older brother who serves in the Alabama National Guard.
Tish Gotell Faulks is the legal director of ACLU of Alabama.
“Transgender youth are a part of Alabama, and they deserve the same privacy, access to treatment, and data-driven health care from trained medical professionals as any other Alabamian,” said Faulks. “We will fight to make sure this is the reality for trans kids and their families, and we condemn the intrusive actions of the lawmakers who voted to use children as political pawns for their reelection campaigns.”
A federal court has blocked Arkansas from enforcing a similar law that was passed last year. A state court in Texas has also blocked the state from investigating parents of children receiving these treatments for child abuse.
The families are represented by the ACLU’s Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project, the ACLU of Alabama, Lambda Legal, Transgender Law Center, and Cooley LLP.
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