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News / Northwest

Families sue to block Idaho law barring gender-affirming care for minors

By Associated Press
Published: June 1, 2023, 9:36am

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The families of two transgender teenagers filed a lawsuit Thursday to block enforcement of Idaho’s ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.

The ban, which was signed into law in April and scheduled to take effect in January 2024, violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection for the teens and due process for their parents, the families said in the filing in U.S. District Court.

“Governor Brad Little signed the bill into law in the name of ‘protecting minors.’ But lawmakers and the Governor ignored the extensive legislative testimony that the Healthcare Ban harms children,” the court filing asserts.

The plaintiffs, whose legal representation includes lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, note that the law makes it a felony for doctors to provide puberty blockers, hormone treatment and surgery for minors only in cases in which it is to help align their bodies with their gender identities. The same treatments are allowed for other purposes.

The lawsuit was expected even before the ban was signed, and follows a pattern in Republican-controlled states. At least 20 have enacted laws or policies barring gender-affirming care in recent years; several are so new they haven’t taken effect yet. Most of the bans have been challenged in court.

The legal challenges are also so recent that there’s not a clear trend for outcomes. A court put enforcement of a Missouri policy on hold — and then officials terminated the rule entirely last month. Lawmakers there have separately passed a ban, though it has not been signed into law so far. Oklahoma has agreed not to enforce its ban while opponents seek to have it blocked.

In the Idaho case, the plaintiff families were not named. Both teens are receiving gender-affirming care. In the court filing, one of the families said the treatment has improved their daughter’s life: She no longer has days when her gender dysphoria is so severe she feels she cannot get out of bed; she’s happy to look into mirrors; her grades have improved and her mother said the girl was glowing as she prepared for her school’s prom.

But debate over and passage of the ban took a toll, leading to depressive thoughts and telling her parents she feels the state where she’s lived her whole life is telling her to leave — something the family is considering doing so she can continue her treatments.

Defendants in the lawsuit include Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador, a county prosecutor and members of the Idaho Code Commission. An email seeking comment was sent to Labrador’s office, which would likely defend the law in court.

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