A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked an Idaho state law that would ban gender-affirming care for minors, just days before it was slated to take effect.
The law in question would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for medical professionals to provide certain medications and treatments to minors “for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of or affirm the child’s perception of the child’s sex if that perception is inconsistent with the child’s biological sex.”
The law — passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature in February and signed into law by the Republican governor in April — specifically prohibited gender transition, puberty blockers and hormone treatment for minors with gender dysphoria. It was set to take effect on Jan. 1.
Two families, along with the ACLU and other groups, filed the lawsuit seeking to stop the ban from taking effect. The two families brought the suit on behalf of their respective adolescent transgender daughters, both of whom were described as having difficulties with their mental health and being less prone to self-harm and suicidal ideation after receiving gender-affirming care.
In issuing the preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote that the “key point of disagreement in this litigation is whether medical interventions allowed under the [World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)] and Endocrine Society guidelines are safe, effective, and medically necessary for some adolescents suffering from gender dysphoria.”
“After carefully considering the voluminous evidence on this point,” Winmill wrote, “the Court finds that the treatment for gender dysphoria — when provided in accordance with the guidelines published by WPATH and the Endocrine Society, and which may include medical interventions such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgeries — is safe, effective, and medically necessary for some adolescents.”
“The weight of the evidence before the Court strongly supports this finding,” Winmill added, noting the guidelines are accepted by every major medical organization in the U.S.
Winmill further noted that, in addition to being safe, gender-affirming medical care often “improves the wellbeing of some adolescents with gender dysphoria, and delaying or withholding such care can be harmful, potentially increasing depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.”
The court also found that transgender teens were “unlikely to later identify as their birth sex.”
The decision comes as lawsuits around the country seek to challenge similar laws in Republican-controlled states banning gender-affirming care for minors. Republicans advocating this position largely express concern about protecting children, but many medical professionals and critics of these laws dispute the validity of that concern.
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