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Trans kids & families sue Alabama over transgender medical ban

Transgender flag being waved in a crowd
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Two trans kids, their parents, and two doctors have sued Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) to stop the state’s transgender medical ban from going into effect.

With help from the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the plaintiffs argue that the transgender medical ban violates trans people’s rights under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which bans discrimination in health care.

Related: Andrea Jenkins on the power of Black trans resilience

They also say that the law violates trans people’s constitutional Equal Protection rights since the law only bans certain procedures when trans kids need them, not when cisgender kids need them, and the procedures the law targets were picked because trans kids need them.

The parents of the trans kids allege that the law violates their constitutional Due Process rights, which they argue include the right to direct their children’s medical care without government interference.

The trans kids and their parents are using pseudonyms in filing the lawsuit, perhaps because of the potential for harassment and violence considering the current political climate.

“Like all parents we want nothing more than for our child to be healthy and happy. We have seen our daughter change from being reclusive and anxious to being an engaged, happy child once we got her the support and care she needs,” said plaintiff Robert Roe, who is the father of Mary Roe, who is a 13-year-old trans girl.

“This law threatens all of that and takes away our ability to follow the advice of highly qualified medical professionals. I was born and raised in Alabama and came back here with my wife to raise our family. We love this community which has shown us incredible support. But if this law goes into effect we may be forced to leave the state we call home in order to protect our daughter’s life.”

The lawsuit states that Mary’s parents tried to raise her as a boy, even though she told them she was a girl. While they made her wear boy clothes to preschool, she would come home every day and put on dresses.

“When she was around six years old,” the lawsuit states, “Mary became reclusive and was very often unhappy, including frequent emotional outbursts where Mary would slam her head into the wall.”

Her parents took her to a therapist when Mary was regularly saying she was a girl and had been for some time. The therapist advised them to let the girl wear what she wants, and her “mental health and behavior greatly improved…. She became a happy child who loved playing outside and was able to be just a kid.”

She faced bullying at school, including from her teachers who misgendered and deadnamed her, and was forced to change schools. She kept her transgender status private and was a generally happy at school.

When puberty hit, she was put on puberty blockers to prevent her from going through testosterone-puberty. Her parents worry that if she can’t get puberty blockers, Mary will resort to self-harm.

The lawsuit notes that her parents are following the advice of her medical team at the University of Alabama – Birmingham, and that affirming Mary’s gender is in-line with the standard of care adopted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, the American Psychiatric association, and other professional medical governing bodies.

If the trans medical ban goes into effect, the doctors who provide her care could get sent to prison for up to 10 years. The doctors who are plaintiffs in the case – Dr. Morissa Ladinsky and Dr. Hussein Abdul-Latif – say that they are “unwilling to violate their professional and ethical duties to their patients,” so they will continue to provide treatment and “face the ever-present threat of criminal prosecution and criminal penalties.”

“By signing SB 184, Governor Ivey has told kind, loving, and loyal Alabama families that they cannot stay here without denying their children the basic medical care they need,” said Dr. Ladinsky in a statement. “She has undermined the health and well-being of Alabama children and put doctors like me in the horrifying position of choosing between ignoring the medical needs of our patients or risking being sent to prison.”

Writer Alejandra Caraballo noted that “one of the most unhelpful suggestions for families of trans kids is to move.” She pointed to a part of the lawsuit that notes that Mary’s father is a state employee in Alabama and that their family has deep ties to the state, so moving would cost them a lot.

A similar law was passed last year in Arkansas, and a federal judge issued an injunction in that state to keep the law from going into effect as the case works its way through the courts.

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