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Alabama to Appeal Ruling on Transgender Kids’ Medical Care

May 17, 2022, 2:16 PM

Alabama will ask the Eleventh Circuit to overturn a ruling granting a partial injunction against the state’s recently enacted law criminalizing gender-affirming medical care for children, according to a notice filed in the Middle District of Alabama.

The state filed a notice of appeal Monday, three days after the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama issued a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of the portion of the law that restricts minors from using puberty blockers and hormone therapies.

Judge Liles C. Burke found that the parents challenging the law are likely to succeed on their claim that the provision violates their due process right to direct medical care of their children, and the minor plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their equal protection claims because the act amounts to a sex-based classification.

The plaintiffs didn’t seek to enjoin other sections of the law. All other provisions of the act will therefore remain in effect, including a bar on sex-altering surgeries, a bar on school officials keeping certain gender-identity information of students secret from their parents, and a bar on school officials “encouraging or compelling children to keep certain gender-identity information secret from their parents,” Burke said.

The law, SB-184, makes it a crime to provide medical procedures or prescribe medications, including testosterone or estrogen, in order to “alter” a minor’s gender or delay puberty. The law carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the measure into law April 8, 2022, and it took effect May 8.

The parents of four transgender children, a pastor who counsels families of transgender kids, a pediatrician, and a clinical child psychologist filed the lawsuit April 19.

The US Department of Justice on April 29 sought to intervene in the case, asking the court to find that the law violates the equal protection clause and to issue a temporary and permanent injunction against its enforcement.

Alabama and Arizona passed gender-affirming care bans this year. Arkansas passed a ban in 2021 over the governor’s veto, which is currently under an injunction issued July 21, 2021.

Lightfoot Franklin & White LLC, King & Spalding LLP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation represent the plaintiffs.

The Alabama Attorney General’s Office and Spero Law LLC represent the state.

The case is Eknes-Tucker v. Marshall, M.D. Ala., No. 22-cv-00184, notice of appeal 5/16/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Brian Flood at bflood@bloomberglaw.com