Today, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision reversing a federal district court ruling blocking enforcement of Alabama’s law banning medical care for transgender adolescents. The district court opinion, which was issued last spring, held that Alabama’s law likely violated the federal Equal Protection Clause and parents’ fundamental right to make medical decisions for their children. Thus far, every single federal district court to hear a similar challenge has ruled similarly, holding that these state bans discriminate against transgender minors and burden their parents’ constitutionally protected rights. The 11th Circuit panel disagreed, holding that Alabama’s law does not discriminate based on sex or transgender status and is therefore subject only to the lowest level of constitutional review.
The Alabama families challenging the law in Boe v. Marshall are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, and Human Rights Campaign, who issued the following statement:
“This is a deeply disappointing decision that is difficult to reconcile with the 11th Circuit’s prior rulings and with the Supreme Court’s clear guidance that discrimination because a person is transgender is sex discrimination. Our clients are devastated by this decision, which leaves them vulnerable to what the district court — after hearing several days of testimony from parents, doctors, and experts — found to be irreparable harm as a result of losing the medical care they have been receiving and that has enabled them to thrive.
“While this is a setback, we are confident that it is only a temporary one. Every federal district court that has heard the evidence presented in these cases has come to the same conclusion: these medical treatments are safe, effective, and lifesaving for some youth, and there is no legitimate reason to ban them. We believe that at the end of the day, our nation’s courts will protect these vulnerable youth and block these harmful laws, which serve no purpose other than to prevent parents from obtaining the medical care their children need. Parents, not the government, are best situated to make these medical decisions for their children. These laws are a shocking example of government overreach and a jarring intrusion into private family decisions. This case is far from over, and we will continue to aggressively seek legal protection for these families.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) are joined in the litigation by co-counsel King & Spalding LLP and Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC.