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New lawsuit filed to challenge law criminalizing transgender medical care

Two similar lawsuits were dropped Friday without explanation, but counsel for the plaintiffs said they expect those suits to be refiled.


Four Alabama parents are asking a federal court to stop SB184 from taking effect on May 8, saying the law strips them of the right to make important decisions about their children’s healthcare. SB184 punishes parents and their children’s doctors for providing gender-transitioning medical care. The punishment can include up to 10 years in prison.

The new legal challenge, Rev. Eknes-Tucker v. Ivey was filed  in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama – Northern Division. Because the plaintiffs face criminal penalties and a loss of medical care for their children under SB184, they will ask the court to block the law from going into effect while their case against it proceeds.

Joining four Alabama parents in their challenge to SB184 are a private practice pediatrician in rural Southeast Alabama, a clinical psychologist with the UAB medical system, and Reverend Paul Eknes-Tucker, senior pastor at Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Birmingham.

The families asking the court to block the law come from across the state and are proceeding anonymously due to the risk of criminal prosecution under SB184. They are Brianna Boe and her 12-year-old transgender son, Michael Boe of Montgomery; James Zoe and his 13-year-old transgender son Zachary Zoe of Birmingham; Megan Poe and her 15-year-old transgender daughter Allison Poe of Northern Alabama; and Kathy Noe and her 17-year-old-transgender son Christopher Noe of Eastern Alabama.

The two medical providers are also proceeding anonymously due to the risk of criminal prosecution.

“As a minister, I counsel parents with transgender children about how best to love and support their children. Under SB184, those conversations now come with a risk of criminal prosecution,” Eknes-Tucker said. “This dangerous law is an unthinkable infringement on parental rights and the freedom of pastors and other faith leaders to counsel their own parishioners. This law is destructive not only to families in Alabama, but to the freedoms and values Alabamians hold dear.”

“I know people who don’t have a transgender child may not understand my experience. I have done everything I can to learn about what my daughter is going through, and being able to seek guidance from our pediatrician and medical specialists was a turning point for our family,” said Megan Poe, mother of 15-year-old Allison of Northern Alabama. “With that support and care Allison has become a confident and social teenager who is thriving in school. Without it, I’m terrified she will again become withdrawn, depressed, or even worse. I only want what’s best for my daughter, like any parent. For the state to take away my ability to provide that essential care and support is unthinkable.”

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“Parents come to me seeking trusted medical advice but under SB184 both I and the parents consulting me are subject to a prison sentence for even discussing the best recommendations for supporting their children’s health,” said Dr. Rachel Koe, pediatrician in private practice in rural Southeast Alabama. “SB184 criminalizes effective, established medical treatment that is recognized as the standard of care in the medical field, including by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.”

The plaintiffs in Rev. Eknes-Tucker v. Ivey are represented by Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC, King & Spalding LLP, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). 

“Allowing SB184 to go into effect will cause enormous stress and harm to families across Alabama. A state should not criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing needed medical treatments,” said NCLR senior staff attorney Asaf Orr.

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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