Parents ask court to overturn Alabama law denying their transgender kids healthcare

Parents in Alabama are fighting a state law set to go into effect next month that they say will physically and mentally harm their transgender children. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Parents in Alabama are fighting a state law set to go into effect next month that they say will physically and mentally harm their transgender children. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

April 20 (UPI) -- Parents of four transgendered children in Alabama have asked a federal judge to overturn a controversial state law criminalizing doctors for providing minors with gender transition-related healthcare before it goes into effect next month.

Senate Bill 184 is considered one of the most restrictive bills in the nation affecting transgender people as it aims to prohibit medical procedures or prescriptions of medication to minors intended to alter their gender or delay puberty by penalizing their doctors with up to 10 years' imprisonment.


The law was signed by the state's Republican governor, Kay Ivey, early this month and is to become enforceable May 8.

In the lawsuit announced Wednesday, the parents were joined by two doctors and a reverend in seeking to have the law barred from going into effect on the grounds it unconstitutionally denies parents the right to make medical decisions for their children as well as discriminates against their children for being transgender.


"The parents challenging this law, like all parents, want what's best for their children, but S.B. 184 punishes them for that," Jennifer Levi, GLAD Transgender Rights Project director, said in a statement. "This is a dangerous law that undermines the ability of Alabama parents to make the best healthcare decisions for their families."

Aside from Rev. Eknes-Tucker of Pilgrim UCC Church in Birmingham, the plaintiffs are all anonymous due to the risk of criminal prosecution under the law with the children ranging in age from 12-17.

The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, states each of the children and the two medical professional will be harmed by S.B. 184.

The children, it states, will either have their medical treatment disrupted, causing their health to deteriorate while preventing their parents from following the advice of their medical providers.

The document further states that the law forces doctors to choose between either violating the act and serving their transgender patients or not only violating their professional and ethical obligations but the Affordable Care Act that prevents individuals from being excluded from any federally assisted healthcare program.


One of the fathers involved in the lawsuit was identified by the false name James Zoe. In a statement, he said his family had the option to move out of state but they decided to stay and fight not only for Zachery, their 13-year-old transgender son, but for all transgender children in Alabama.

"Our family is challenging this cruel law because it infringes on our ability as parents to ensure our child receives appropriate medical care and targets transgender youth simply for being transgendered," Zoe said. "In the end, we believe this unfair law will be overturned and we will be able to continue providing our child with the medical care he needs."

The lawsuit was filed as Republican-controlled states seek to pass legislation that affects the rights of the LGBT community.

According to Human Rights Campaign, the United States' largest LGBTQ advocacy group, more than 300 bills affecting LGBTQ people have been submitted to state legislatures this year with about half concerning transgender youth.

After Ivey signed S.B. 184 into law on April 8, Carmarion Anderson-Harvey, director of Human Rights Campaign Alabama State, accused her of courting far-right voters over protecting the health of transgender youth.

"The governor and her fellow anti-equality legislators in the state capital have recklessly passed a bill that goes directly against the best advice of the medical community and intrudes on the rights of parents and families to make their own medical decisions," Anderson-Harvey said in a statement. "They have successfully criminalized critically important care that transgender youth need desperately, and the incredible doctors and care providers who help transgender youth each and every day."


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