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US court partly blocks Alabama’s gender-affirming care ban

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The rights of transgender people have become a cultural and political lightning rod in the United States./AFP
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May 16, 2022 - 11:29 AM

WASHINGTON — A US federal court on Friday temporarily blocked part of an Alabama law which made it a felony to give gender-affirming medical treatment to transgender minors.

Such treatments have become a cultural and political lightning rod in the United States, where many Republican-controlled states have brought legislation limiting the medical options open to young transgender people.

Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, which came into effect earlier this month, bans the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies — which are often used to bring a person’s body into alignment with their gender identity.

Under the act, anyone providing those therapies could be jailed for up to 10 years.

But on Friday, United States District Judge Liles Burke ruled there was a high likelihood that those provisions are unconstitutional, granting a temporary block on them, pending trial.

That was based on precedents that “parents have a fundamental right to direct the medical care of their children subject to accepted medical standards,” and that “discrimination based on gender non-conformity equates to sex discrimination.”

Alabama provided “no credible evidence to show that transitioning medications are ‘experimental,'” the ruling said.

It added that “the uncontradicted evidence is that at least twenty-two major medical associations in the United States endorse transitioning medications as well-established, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors.”

Some other parts of the law are unaffected by the ruling at the Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division, specifically the outlawing of gender-affirming surgery for minors, and a rule compelling school officials to inform parents of any gender-identity information to do with their children.

Earlier on Friday, the Texas Supreme Court reauthorized official investigations into parents of transgender children in the southern state, overturning a previous ruling that had suspended them.

In March, a court halted the implementation of a directive by Republican governor Greg Abbott that said gender-affirming medication and “sex change procedures” for minors constituted “child abuse” and were criminally punishable.

But the Supreme Court said Friday that the appeal court “abused its discretion.”

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