Judge blocks parts of Indiana’s gender transition care law
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A federal judge has blocked parts of a state law to prohibit juveniles from accessing hormone therapy, puberty blockers, or surgical procedures for the purposes of gender transition care.
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the measure into law April 5. The law, affecting people 18 and younger, was set to take effect July 1.
Shortly after the measure became law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of four transgender minors who live in Indiana and their families.
The judge says his injunction covers all people not just the four transgender minors in the lawsuit.
In the 34-page ruling, Judge James Hanlon said the partial injunction covers bans on:
- Gender transition procedures, except reassignment surgery.
- “Aiding or abeting another physician or practitioner in the provision of” prohibited transition procedures to a minor, as applied to speech.
ACLU lawyer Ken Falk on Wednesday told Hanlon the law would force the minors to experience puberty, causing irreversible physical changes inconsistent with their gender identity. He said although gender transition treatments have never been subjected to randomized, controlled trials, the benefits thousands of transgender people have enjoyed from such procedures over the years are more than enough to prove it works.
Arguing on behalf of the state, Solicitor General Tom Fisher said Wednesday before the judge that there is no objectively verifiable way to diagnose gender dysphoria in children. He also notes recent decisions by countries including the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden to tighten the rules on when minors can access gender-affirming care. He said the state already has the authority to regulate medical procedures and has a vested interest in protecting its people from potentially dangerous effects.
Falk has noted the countries in question only blocked access to such treatments through their national health care systems, not through private physicians.
The Indiana Youth Group estimates there are about 3,350 transgender people between the ages of 13 and 17 in Indiana.
Other states that also have banned gender-affirming care include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Federal judges in other states, including Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma, have put similar laws on hold.
No court has yet ruled on the constitutionality of such laws.
“Today’s victory is a testament to the trans youth of Indiana, their families, and their allies, who never gave up the fight to protect access to gender- affirming care and who will continue to defend the right of all trans people to be their authentic selves, free from discrimination. We won’t rest until this unconstitutional law is struck down for good.”
Ken Fulk, legal director of ACLU of Indiana
“We warned lawmakers that if they passed laws attacking trans people that they would see us in court. This victory belongs to the families who have bravely participated in this case, as well as other trans youth in Indiana who spoke up about the harms created by this law. Our work in Indiana and around the country is far from over — including with this law.”
Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project