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Alabama outlaws gender-affirming medicines for transgender kids

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It’s now a crime in Alabama to administer or prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender people under age 19, as a law took effect Sunday without intervention from the courts.

Alabama is the first state to enact a ban on these treatments for transgender youth; a similar measure in Arkansas was blocked by a federal judge before it took effect. A federal judge has not yet ruled on a preliminary injunction request to block Alabama from enforcing the law while a court challenge goes forward.

“Families are scared. How can you not feel like the floor was pulled out from under you?” Dr. Morissa Ladinsky, a pediatrician who founded a Birmingham medical team that treats children with gender dysphoria, said Sunday. Ladinsky said she remains hopeful that a federal judge will grant an injunction request.

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The Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act makes it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to prescribe or administer gender-affirming medication to those under 19. It also requires teachers, counselors and other school officials to tell parents if a minor discloses that they think they are transgender.

U.S. District Judge Liles Burke on Friday had cautioned attorneys that he might not have a decision on a request for a preliminary injunction by Sunday, the Alabama law’s effective date. Burke said he and his staff would do “nothing else” but work on the issue.

Four families with transgender children and others filed a lawsuit, joined by the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging the law as discriminatory, an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and free speech rights and an intrusion into family medical decisions.

The plaintiffs asked Burke to issue an order blocking enforcement of the statute while the lawsuit goes forward. Also urging the judge to enjoin the law are 23 medical and mental health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Attorneys for Alabama argued that the ban should be allowed to go forward.

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