After Alabama legislators passed a law criminalizing healthcare for transgender children and adolescents, the Southern Poverty Law Center joined a coalition of civil rights advocates to file a federal lawsuit challenging the law on behalf of a group of families, a reverend and two health care providers affected by it.
The law, known as SB 184, prohibits parents from obtaining essential medical care for their transgender children by imposing criminal penalties on them and their children’s doctors for providing that care. It also punishes parents for making important decisions about their children’s health care and health care providers for even suggesting well-established medically necessary care. The punishment can include up to 10 years in prison.
The complaint, previously known as Eknes-Tucker, et al. v. Ivey, et al., describes how the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process by impermissibly intruding into parents’ fundamental right to obtain safe, effective and medically necessary care for their children. It also details how the law violates Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity, by health care providers that receive federal funding. Additionally, the law violates the First Amendment by restricting the speech of health care providers, a spiritual adviser or a parent, if it resulted in gender dysphoria treatment for transgender children.
The family plaintiffs, who come from various communities in Alabama, would be subject to criminal prosecution if they sought and obtained appropriate medical care for their children. Plaintiffs also include two health care providers who would be subjected to criminal penalties for providing medical care for transgender children.
Another plaintiff, the Rev. Paul A. Eknes-Tucker, provides pastoral counseling for parents raising transgender children. Eknes-Tucker is concerned he will face criminal penalties for his pastoral work with transgender minors who begin medical treatments for gender dysphoria.
Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the claims by Eknes-Tucker after Alabama represented to the court that “a person cannot violate the Act simply by advising a minor to take transitioning medications” and a new lead plaintiff was named.