The Justice Department Friday filed a complaint challenging a recently enacted Alabama law, Senate Bill 184, criminalizing the provision of gender-transitioning medical care to minors.
In a statement released Friday, the Justice Department said the bill “denies necessary medical care to children based solely on who they are, and that threatens criminal prosecution and jail time to doctors, parents, and anyone else who provides or ‘causes’ that care.”
The United States’ complaint alleges that the new law’s felony ban on providing certain medically necessary care to transgender minors violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The department is also asking the court to issue an immediate order to prevent the law from going into effect.
The legislation makes it a felony for any person to “engage in or cause” specified types of medical care for transgender minors.
“SB 184 thus discriminates against transgender youth by denying them access to certain forms of medically necessary care,” the Justice Department said in the statement. “It further discriminates against transgender youth by barring them from accessing particular procedures while allowing non-transgender minors to access the same or similar procedures. The penalties for violating the law include up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000. SB184 would force parents of transgender minors, medical professionals, and others to choose between forgoing medically necessary procedures and treatments, or facing criminal prosecution. The United States’ complaint alleges that SB184 violates the Equal Protection Clause by discriminating on the basis of sex and transgender status.”
The complaint joins another lawsuit filed by four Alabama parents of transgender teens filed in April.
Friday’s filing is the latest action by the Justice Department to combat discrimination based on gender identity, including unlawful restrictions on medical care for transgender youth. On March 31, 2022, the Civil Rights Division issued a letter to all state attorneys general reminding them of federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender youth against discrimination.
The complaint in intervention is being handled by Deputy Chief Coty Montag and Trial Attorneys Alyssa Lareau, Kaitlin Toyama, and Renee Williams of the Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section; John Powers, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Cheek for the Northern District of Alabama; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Wadsworth for the Middle District of Alabama.