Story at a glance
- Parents of transgender children in Alabama on Wednesday filed a brief asking the state court of appeals to uphold an injunction blocking the state’s felony ban on gender-affirming care.
- In an appeal filed in June, attorneys for Alabama said the injunction should be overturned and access to gender-affirming health care is not constitutionally protected because it is not “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition.”
- Parents in the brief filed Wednesday argued that they have a fundamental right to care for their children.
Parents of transgender children in Alabama on Wednesday filed a brief urging the state court of appeals to uphold an injunction that is currently blocking state officials from enforcing a law that criminalizes the provision of gender-affirming health care to minors, arguing that acting to the contrary would disturb more than 100 years of precedent.
A federal judge in May blocked part of Alabama’s ban on gender-affirming care, which makes it a felony – punishable by up to a decade in prison – for doctors to provide or recommend puberty blockers, hormone therapy or other interventions to treat gender dysphoria in transgender youth younger than 19 years old.
Other parties – including parents – that facilitate the provision of gender-affirming care to a minor may also be charged under the law.
In June, Alabama attorneys said the injunction should be overturned, arguing in an appeal that the state has greater authority than parents to regulate a child’s medical care. Access to gender-affirming health care is also not constitutionally guaranteed, lawyers for the state argued, because it is not “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition.”
In their brief, a group of Alabama parents suing the state said the injunction should be upheld because courts for more than a century have recognized medical decision-making as a parental right.
“The fundamental right to parent is ‘perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests’ recognized by the Supreme Court and its application to medical decision-making is well established,” the parents’ attorneys wrote in the brief, quoting a 2000 Supreme Court case that strengthened a parent’s right to direct the upbringing of their children.
The brief contends that the state’s argument in its appeal has “no merit” because the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects parents’ rights to make decisions concerning the “care, custody, and control of their children.”
“Because the right of parents to care for their children is fundamental, any substantial infringement of parental autonomy is subject to strict scrutiny,” the brief states. “A core aspect of this fundamental right is a parent’s ability to make medical decisions for a child.”
In a statement released Thursday by her attorneys at The Human Rights Campaign, the mother of a 15-year-old transgender girl in northern Alabama, named in the lawsuit as Megan Poe, said the injunction has allowed her family to “breathe a little easier.”
“While many people may not understand what it means to have a transgender child, I know any parent can relate to worrying about whether your child is healthy and safe,” she said. “This law has shined a spotlight on our family’s personal healthcare decisions that we didn’t ask for, but I’m so glad that the district court heard and understood our experience and the experience of other families like ours.
“My daughter is a confident, engaged and happy teenager today because we are able to provide her care,” Poe said.
Attorneys for Alabama did not immediately return Changing America’s request for comment.