Several parents of transgender youth have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, requesting the court maintain the injunction placed on the recently passed law criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
A number of health care professionals, faith-based groups, and 21 U.S. states have also filed similar briefs in recent months urging the appeals court to maintain the injunction on the law, which was blocked by a federal judge in May.
“When their children came out to them as transgender, each one of these parents was surprised, scared, and confused,” the brief reads. “Their very first step was to make sure their child knew that they would never stop loving and supporting them, and then they set out to determine what they needed to do to protect and ensure their child’s health and safety. This included seeking professional medical assistance to determine whether their child was, in fact, suffering from gender dysphoria and, if so, to devise a treatment plan.”
Families listed within the brief, with many proceeding anonymously, describe the gender-affirming care that the state wishes to criminalize as necessary and lifesaving treatment for their transgender youth.
One family of a 15-year-old transgender youth named Matthew said that “his medical transition is a critical measure for his wellbeing,” and how they are concerned for the wellbeing of their child if his care was disrupted.
Another family of a 15-year-old transgender youth named Taylor said that since receiving gender-affirming care, their child went from “an anxious, sad kid who had a hard time getting up in the morning, to a kid who is up and out on their bike, in the woods, and going to camp.” and the accessibility of treatment has decreased their child’s distress.
One mother whose child began receiving transition-related care as a youth living in Alabama prior to care for transgender individuals being available in the state said that the months of delays related to making out-of-state medical visits “resulted in suffering that she would not have experienced had she been able to visit a clinic in-state.”
The mother also described that once the process of transitioning has begun for her child,” she was no longer withdrawn, and became more confident and engaged socially and at school.”
If fully enacted, parents, health-care professionals, and other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison, along with a fine of $15,000, if they assist or provide gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Gender-affirming care is an umbrella term used to describe treatments “designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity,” according to the World Health Organization, and have been clinically shown to decrease instances of depression, self-harm, and suicide among transgender youth–, a demographic already disproportionally at risk for mental illness and suicide.
Both before and after the bill’s passage during the previous legislative session, families with transgender youth, LGBTQ+ rights activists, and physicians have sharply critiqued the state lawmakers’ reasoning in crafting and passing the law.
A report released by Yale University in May shows that the Alabama law criminalizing gender-affirming care for transgender youth “presents a list of purported scientific findings without argument or citation.” and used misleading or false information related to puberty-blocking drugs and medical standards of care for transgender youth.