A federal judge will hear arguments next month on whether to block enforcement of an Alabama law outlawing the use of gender-affirming medications to treat transgender people under age 19.

The Legislature passed and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the Vulnerable Child Protection and Compassion Act during the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. The May 5 hearing is scheduled just days before the law is set to take effect on May 8.

U.S. District Judge Liles Burke, Northern District of Alabama, set the evidentiary hearing, scheduled to last up to two days, on a request for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to stop Alabama officials from enforcing the law while a court challenge goes forward.

The Alabama law will make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for medical providers to give puberty blockers and hormones to transgender people under age 19 to help affirm their gender identity.

Four families with transgender children, two doctors and a member of the clergy filed a lawsuit challenging the law as an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and free speech rights and an intrusion into parental decisions. The families 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.

Gov. Kay Ivey said earlier this month that she had 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 Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposes the law.

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.

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.

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