A federal appeals court this week delivered a major victory to opponents of transgender procedures for children, green-lighting an Alabama law that prohibits minors from receiving puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone treatments and trans surgeries.
It is the second time in recent months that an appeals court has ruled in favor of such a law. On Monday, a unanimous three-judge panel for the 11th Circuit lifted a lower court injunction against the Alabama law. In July, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court injunction against a similar Tennessee law. The issue appears bound for the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Alabama law says that “no person shall engage in or cause” the prescription or administration of puberty-blocking medication or cross-sex hormone treatment to a minor “for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of or affirm the minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex, if that appearance or perception is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”
“The plaintiffs have not presented any authority that supports the existence of a constitutional right to ‘treat [one’s] children with transitioning medications subject to medically accepted standards,’” Judge Barbara Lagoa wrote in the court’s opinion.
It is “well established,” Lagoa wrote, that “states have a compelling interest in ‘safeguarding the physical and psychological well-being of’” minors.
“In the same vein, states have a compelling interest in protecting children from drugs, particularly those for which there is uncertainty regarding benefits, recent surges in use, and irreversible effects,” Lagoa continued. “... [T]he record evidence is undisputed that the medications at issue present some risks. As the district court recognized, these medications can cause ‘loss of fertility and sexual function.’ The district court also acknowledged testimony that ‘several European countries have restricted treating minors with transitioning medications due to growing concern about the medications’ risks.’ Second, there is at least rational speculation that some families will not fully appreciate those risks and that some minors experiencing gender dysphoria ultimately will desist and identify with their biological sex.”
Lagoa was nominated by former President Donald Trump. Joining her in the opinion were two other Republican presidential nominees: Andrew L. Brasher (Trump) and J. P. Boulee (Trump).
Alliance Defending Freedom applauded the ruling.
“Alabama is right to protect minors from harmful, irreversible, and experimental medical procedures that can permanently alter children’s bodies without any proven long-term benefit. Children suffering discomfort with their sex are best served by compassionate mental health care,” said ADF’s Ryan Bangert. “Even the far-from-impartial World Professional Association for Transgender Health has admitted that the overwhelming majority of children will naturally resolve their dysphoria as they mature. That’s why other countries – like Sweden, England, and Finland – are reversing course, now curtailing the use of dangerous ‘gender transition’ procedures and better protecting children from the bad science that has already devastated countless lives.”
Photo courtesy: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.