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LGBTQ+ groups consider next steps in gender-affirming care fight

Gender-affirming care ban takes effect

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — American Civil Liberties Union leaders on Wednesday said they will continue their lawsuit after Indiana’s gender transition care ban took effect.

Indiana lawmakers last year passed a ban on any form of gender-affirming care for minors. The ACLU of Indiana immediately filed a lawsuit, arguing it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.

In June, a federal district judge put the law on hold while the lawsuit proceeds. On Tuesday, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Indiana, overturned the judge’s order, putting the ban into effect immediately.

ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Chris Daley said he was very disappointed by the order. He said the ACLU is waiting for the judges to hand down their full decision before deciding how to proceed.

“Long-term, this really is an issue that the legislature needs to take care of,” he said. “This is a problem created by 101 legislators and a governor who last year signed a bill that’s going to terrorize transgender youth and their families and it really is up to the legislature to make this right.”

Daley said the order does not affect the status of the ACLU’s lawsuit itself, which has not gone to trial. Attorney General Todd Rokita, whose office is tasked with defending the state in court, said the lawsuit should end now. He said the law is about protecting children.

“It’s about loving them. These kids certainly, obviously attention, they need love,” he said. “They don’t need this behavior affirmed. They don’t need to be marched into a hospital to have irreversible sex-change surgery when they aren’t even 18 yet.”

No evidence of any such surgeries being performed on minors in Indiana has ever been produced. Zoe O’Hailin-Berne, Indiana Youth Group’s director of engagement, said high-profile instances of people who underwent gender transition care but later reversed their decision nearly always involve people who received surgeries as adults. More transgender youth than ever are coming to her organization for help and support amid the ongoing court battle. She said the group has seen an influx of new youth as well as more frequent visits by young people who were already seeking help.

Asked what message she has for transgender youth amid the court battle, she replied, “Just keep holding on. Know that there are people who care about you. There are people who are here to fight for you. We know that you’re here. We know that you’re valid no matter what anyone says.”