A federal judge in Indiana largely blocked the enactment of that state’s ban on transitional health care for youth on July 1, the latest in a string of courtroom wins for children’s rights advocates. transgender.
Why it matters: Parents said their children would suffer serious harm.
The preliminary injunction, issued Friday by Judge James Patrick Hanlon, allows transgender children in Indiana to continue receiving hormone treatments and puberty blockers while a lawsuit against the state ban proceeds. Gender transition surgeries for minors, which are rare, remain banned in the state.
Indiana’s lawsuit was one of many filed across the country in response to a series of Republican-backed measures that ban or severely limit puberty blockers, hormone treatments and surgeries for transgender youth. The Indiana ban, which passed the Republican-controlled legislature by wide margins this spring, was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican.
Families of transgender children have sued to block the law, saying it would put transgender youth at immediate risk of unwanted changes to their bodies, with lifelong consequences.
Their lawyers have noted that major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatricsthey support gender transition assistance and said the bans pose serious mental health risks for young people, violating not only their rights but also the rights of doctors and parents.
Kenneth J. Falk, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said in oral discussions this week that the law was « an attempt by the state to radically interfere » with parental decisions and was « a clear violation of parental rights.”
Background: Transgender rights advocates lost on Capitol Hill but won in court.
At least 17 states passed laws this year banning or severely limiting transitional assistance for minors as Republicans put restrictions on transgender people in the legislative spotlight.
However, transgender rights advocates have been successful in challenging such laws in the courts.
Judge Hanlon, who heard the injunction arguments Wednesday in a wood-paneled courtroom in downtown Indianapolis, was nominated to the Federal District Court by President Donald J. Trump.
Federal judges also blocked or largely blocked enforcement of transition assistance bans passed in previous years in Alabama and Arkansas. In Oklahoma, the state attorney general’s office agreed fail to enforce a recently passed ban on transitional care until a judge could rule on an injunction request. And in Florida, a judge this month said the state can’t stop a handful of children whose families they’ve sued from continuing their transitioning treatments.
As in other states, supporters of the Indiana law said there was insufficient evidence to support hormone treatments and puberty blockers for transgender children. They said they were trying to protect young people from making life-altering decisions they might later regret.
« What the Indiana General Assembly has decided to do is say, ‘We don’t want our children to be part of this great experiment,' » Indiana Attorney General Thomas M. Fisher told Judge Hanlon.
What’s next: A trial in Indiana and more sentences elsewhere.
Judge Hanlon’s ruling is not final: He simply blocks the enforcement of Indiana law until a bench trial can be held on the merits of the case.
Officials at the Indiana Attorney General’s office didn’t say directly whether they planned to appeal the injunction, but they did release a statement saying the judge’s decision « wasn’t the end of the story » and that the office « will continue to defend the democratically approved laws of the state.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers said they were satisfied with the ruling and were not done fighting the restrictions.
« Our work in Indiana and across the country is far from done, even with this law, » said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, who is among the attorneys representing the plaintiffs of the Indiana.
As the Indiana case progresses, federal and state court judges in other parts of the country are considering similar lawsuits. At least 10 such lawsuits had been filed as of mid-June, with more expected to follow.