A federal judge on Friday issued a ruling blocking the enforcement of a law that criminalizes gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Alabama.
Senate Bill 184, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey last month and went into effect on Sunday, punishes parents and legal guardians of transgender youth, as well as their health care providers, for offering — or even suggesting — gender-affirming care to trans youth under the age of 19.
Punishment can include up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Late on Friday, Judge Liles C. Burke of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, issued a preliminary injunction that blocks parts of the law, while a legal challenge to the legislation moves forward.
Last week, the Trump-appointed judge heard witnesses and lawyers during a three-day hearing in a lawsuit, filed by several parties — the families of two trans teens, two Alabama doctors, the pastor of a Birmingham church, and the U.S. Justice Department — seeking to block the law.
Friday’s order blocks Alabama from enforcing the medication ban, but Burke left in place a block on gender-affirming surgeries for minors — although those are not performed in the state, according to the testimony of health care providers during the hearing.
A provision that requires school counselors and other officials to tell parents or guardians if a minor discloses that they think they are transgender also remained in place.
“This ruling means that parents of transgender children in Alabama will continue to be able to make the healthcare decisions that are best for their families,” Jennifer Levi, transgender rights project director at GLAD, one of four LGBTQ and civil rights organizations that filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs, told the Daily News in a statement.
“It is an extraordinary relief. Parents should not be punished for wanting to do what’s best for their kids,” she added.
One of them, James Zoe, the father of a 13-year-old trans boy in Birmingham, is relieved that his family will now be able to “continue providing our child with the medical care he needs and nothing could be more important or more of a relief to our family.”
Slamming the law as “cruel,” he added that the family does not want to move to another state, which they might be forced to do, according to whatever the court ultimately decides.
“We are fighting for our child and will continuing fighting so that he and all transgender youth in Alabama remain able to receive appropriate medical care,” Zoe said.
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