The US Department of Justice is suing the state of Alabama over its first law in the nation criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender children.
The DOJ filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Alabama on Friday alleging the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by discriminating against people “on the basis of sex and transgender status.” .
Earlier this month, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 184 into law, which makes it a felony to provide certain medical treatments to transgender people under the age of 19.
Under the new law, parents or doctors who prescribe puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries to transgender youth now face up to 10 years in prison.
The law made Alabama the first state in the US to threaten to prosecute people who provide health care to transgender youth and comes amid a wave of anti-LGBT+ laws sweeping red states.
In the lawsuit filed Friday, the Justice Department asked the court to block the law and issue an immediate order preventing it from going into effect.
The lawsuit says the new law “denies necessary health care to children based solely on who they are,” making it a direct violation of the 14th Amendment on equal protection grounds.
“The law discriminates against transgender minors by unreasonably denying them access to certain forms of medically necessary care,” the lawsuit states.
“While it criminalizes certain forms of medically necessary gender-affirming care for transgender minors, SB 184 allows all other minors to access the same procedures and treatments.”
The law means that medical professionals, parents and minors old enough to make their own medical decisions are now forced to choose between forgoing medically necessary procedures and treatment or facing criminal prosecution, the lawsuit states.
“All people, including transgender youth, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” he says.
On April 9, when she signed the bill into law, Governor Ivey said she wanted to ensure that children “properly develop into the adults God intended them to be.”
“I firmly believe that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl,” he said.
“We must especially protect our children from these radical, life-altering surgeries when they are at such a vulnerable stage of life.
“Instead, let’s all focus on helping them develop properly and become the adults God intended them to be.”
The Republican also signed into law a bill that bars transgender students from using school bathrooms that do not match the gender they were assigned at birth.
It also prohibits schools from having discussions about gender and sexual identity in lower grades.
The new laws have been criticized by LGBT+ activists with the Human Rights Campaign calling the two bills “the most anti-transgender legislative package in history”.
Alabama is just one of several Republican states currently dismantling the rights of transgender people and other members of the LGBT+ community.
So far in 2022, more than 300 laws have been introduced in states that focus on LGBT+ rights around transgender student-athletes, health care for transgender youth, and classroom instruction on sexual orientation and identity of genre.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in March, banning discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools statewide.
At least a dozen other states have also introduced similar laws.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott directed state agencies to investigate families with transgender children.
A court imposed an injunction on his order, which is now being appealed by the Republican attorney general.
In March, the Justice Department sent a letter to all state attorneys general reminding them of the federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender people from discrimination.