Story at a glance
- A coalition of 21 Democratic attorneys general on Wednesday submitted an amicus brief to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals urging it to uphold a preliminary injunction preventing Alabama from enforcing a new law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender youth under 19.
- Under the law, doctors and others who help a transgender young person access treatments including puberty blockers and hormones can face up to a decade in prison.
- Each state that signed onto the brief has a law or policy in place protecting access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
A coalition of Democratic attorneys general are calling on an Alabama court to strike down the state’s felony ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors, arguing the law infringes on the constitutional rights of transgender youth and puts their wellbeing and lives at risk.
Attorneys general of 21 states on Wednesday submitted an amicus brief to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals urging it to uphold a preliminary injunction issued by a federal district court judge in May.
The injunction currently prohibits Alabama officials from enforcing a new state law that makes it a felony — punishable by up to a decade in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 — for doctors or others to assist transgender youth younger than 19 in accessing gender-affirming medical care, including puberty blockers or hormone therapy.
Attorneys for Alabama in June appealed the court’s decision, arguing that the state has authority over parents when it comes to regulating the medical care of minors. Last week, a group of parents with transgender children in Alabama said courts for more than a century have recognized medical decision-making as a parental right.
Attorneys general on Wednesday called the Alabama law an “extreme” measure that harms rather than protects transgender youth, ignores broad medical consensus and interferes with medical decisions traditionally reached by providers, their patients and their patients’ families.
“Medical decisions should be between doctors and their patients, not doctors, their patients, and the State of Alabama,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D), who is leading the coalition of attorneys general, said in a statement. “Whether it’s access to abortion or hormone therapy, Alabama’s overreach puts people’s lives and well-being at risk.”
The brief also argues that the Alabama law may impose “spillover harms” on other states with transgender residents who travel to Alabama for work or school, and “directly violates” the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by prohibiting only transgender youth from taking certain medications available to other young patients when they are not used to treat gender dysphoria.
“Let’s be clear: Gender-affirming care doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a rigorous and evidence-based medical process,” Bonta said. “Criminalizing trans youth, their families, and doctors over access to medical care doesn’t solve anything, it only serves to marginalize and endanger people for who they are.”
Bonta is joined by the Democratic attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Each state has laws or policies in place that guarantee access to gender-affirming health care for transgender young people.
“Robust data confirm that such policies result in better health and economic outcomes,” state attorneys general wrote Wednesday in the brief, adding that some of them have enacted additional policies barring health insurers from categorically excluding coverage for gender-affirming care.
“Taken together, these laws and policies reflect our core commitment to protecting the equality of all people, regardless of their gender identity, and ensuring that people with gender dysphoria are not denied necessary healthcare.”