Health Care

Idaho Judge Temporarily Blocks Ban on Gender Transition Care for Minors

The law, House Bill 71, specifically bans gender transition surgeries, puberty blockers and hormone therapy for those under 18 with gender dysphoria. It also makes it a felony for medical professionals to provide the care, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Idaho’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed the bill, also known as the Vulnerable Child Protective Act, in February, and Gov. Brad Little, also a Republican, signed it into law in April. The ban was set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

Mr. Little said the ban sought to “protect children.” But major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have come out in support of gender transition care, saying bans pose serious mental health risks to young people.

In May, two Idaho families, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations, filed a lawsuit to block the ban from taking effect, claiming that it was unconstitutional and harmful to the well-being of transgender minors.

“Where the adolescent patient, their parents and their doctor all agree that gender-affirming medical care is medically necessary, the law strips families of the ability to access such care,” the complaint said.

“Being able to live my life as my true self has been a long journey, and my medical care has been an important part of that journey,” one plaintiff, a 16-year-old transgender girl listed as Jane Doe in the case, said in a statement.

On Dec. 27, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, issued a preliminary injunction, saying in the ruling that the plaintiffs had “shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their claims.”

Idaho’s legislation is part of a national wave of laws that aim to restrict the rights of transgender minors. So far this year, at least 20 states, all of which have Republican-controlled legislatures, have passed bans or restrictions on gender transition care for young people.

In more than half of the states that have passed such bans, court challenges have been filed. Many judges over recent months have ruled in favor of plaintiffs seeking to block these bans temporarily while challenges to them proceed. But appeals court rulings in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee have reversed those decisions, creating even more uncertainty for transgender minors and their families. In November, plaintiffs in the case against Tennessee’s ban became the first to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue.

In Idaho, the Vulnerable Child Protective Act is not the only law restricting the rights of transgender youth that is currently the subject of legal battles.

Days before signing the Vulnerable Child Protective Act, the governor signed a separate bill affecting transgender minors, known as Senate Bill 1100. This law prohibited transgender students from using public bathrooms not aligned with their gender assigned at birth and allowed students to take legal action against schools if they encountered a transgender student not abiding by the rule.

The bathroom ban took effect on July 1, and in

August, a judge issued a temporary restraining order, pausing the enforcement of the law until the court rules on whether to grant a preliminary injunction.

For now, transgender minors in Idaho will still be able to receive gender transition care while the challenge to the constitutionality of the state ban continues to move through the legal system.


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