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Indiana judge blocks ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth

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On Friday, a federal judge blocked an Indiana law signed by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) in April that bans gender-affirming care for trans youth in the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision “a victory” for trans youth and their families in Indiana.

The preliminary injunction was issued by U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon — a Trump appointee — who wrote that plaintiffs had “some likelihood of success” on their claims that the ban was unconstitutional.

Hours after the governor signed the bill on April 5, the ACLU and its Indiana affiliate filed suit on behalf of four trans youth and their families, arguing the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection for all.

The suit also asserts the law is a violation of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Act by banning essential services that Medicaid would otherwise authorize and reimburse.

Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana’s legal director, asserted at the time the law will cause “serious injuries” to trans youth.

“The legislature did not ban the various treatments that are outlined,” he told the AP when the suit was filed. “It only banned it for transgender persons.”

On Friday, Falk celebrated the ruling.

“Today’s victory is a testament to the trans youth of Indiana, their families, and their allies,” the ACLU shared in a statement, “who never gave up the fight to protect access to gender-affirming care and who will continue to defend the right of all trans people to be their authentic selves, free from discrimination.”

According to the Movement Advancement Project, 19 states have banned gender-affirming care for trans youth. Indiana’s ban is the fifth to be blocked in federal court.

Studies have shown that gender-affirming care can significantly lower the risk of depression and suicide for trans youth. Additionally, gender-affirming care for both adolescents and adults has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and many other professional groups as necessary and frequently lifesaving for transgender individuals.

Republican lawmakers in the state have introduced a deluge of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation over the last two years, including copycat Don’t Say Gay legislation modeled on Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, bans on trans athletes participating in school sports, and denials of parental rights to gay parents.

A version of the state’s gender-affirming care ban, disguised as a conversion therapy ban, was introduced in January by Indiana state Rep. Lorissa Sweet (R).

The Senate’s version, S.B. 480, was authored by freshman State Sen. Tyler Johnson (R), an emergency room physician who is facing accusations of malpractice in the death of a 20-year-old woman in 2018.

“Medical malpractice happens,” Johnson recently told a reporter asking about the case.

Editor’s note: This article mentions suicide. If you need to talk to someone now, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. It’s staffed by trans people, for trans people. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgement-free place to talk for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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