US judge declines to pause challenge to Alabama law criminalizing gender-affirming care for minors – JURIST

A federal judge in Alabama declined on Tuesday to stay a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act (VCCPA). US District Judge Liles Burke rejected a request from the US government to stay the case while appeals courts determine the appropriate standard of review for state bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, which is a central issue to the case before Burke.

The US government intervened in the lawsuit as a plaintiff to challenge the VCCPA. The US requested that the court stay the case until the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit or the US Supreme Court decide on an appropriate standard of review. After hearing arguments on the matter, Burke declined to pause the lawsuit because the cases that these courts could decide a standard on are still pending. Burke dismissed the government’s motion without prejudice, noting that a stay may be appropriate if the Eleventh Circuit or Supreme Court take up these cases.

This case had already made its way up to the Eleventh Circuit when the court ruled that the ban could go into effect.

The VCCPA, signed into law by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on April 8, 2022, prohibits persons from “engag[ing] in or caus[ing]” the prescription or administration of puberty-blocking medication, testosterone or estrogen hormones, surgeries that sterilize, sex reassignment surgeries to genitalia and chest reconstruction surgery if such “practice is performed 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 as defined in this act.” In other words, it prevents people within Alabama from providing gender-affirming care to minors. Conviction under the act is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $15,000.00.

In September, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit allowed Tennessee and Kentucky to enforce bans on gender-affirming care for minors. The plaintiffs appealed the decision, asking the Supreme Court to take up the case. 

Several other states have proposed or passed bans on gender-affirming care this year. In October, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed three bills that ban gender-affirming care for minors and limit transgender participation in sports. Additionally, in April, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed into law a bill banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors in the state.

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