16 Apr 2024, 12:49

Idaho law barring trans care for minors goes into effect amid lawsuit

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - An Idaho law criminalizing medical procedures for transgender youth will be allowed to go into effect while a lawsuit against it continues, the US Supreme Court decided Monday.

The nation's conservative-majority high court did not rule on the constitutionality of the 2023 law itself, but lifted a block placed on enforcing the law while the lawsuit challenging it is underway.

Under the law, medical professionals who provide treatments to minors including puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgery can face up to 10 years in prison.

Puberty blockers have been used in young teens contemplating gender transition to delay the onset of unwanted physical changes.

Advocates say these are effective treatments for people suffering from gender dysphoria -- the clinical condition of distress because a person's gender identity is not the same as their biological sex.

About 20 US states have put in place laws restricting transgender medical care, also called gender-affirming care, for minors, as the issue has become a hot-button topic for conservatives in recent years.

Democrats decry such moves as encroaching on fundamental rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Idaho criticized the Supreme Court's decision.

"While the Court's ruling today importantly does not touch upon the constitutionality of this law, it is nonetheless an awful result for transgender youth and their families across the state," they said in a joint statement.

"Today's ruling allows the state to shut down the care that thousands of families rely on while sowing further confusion and disruption."

Raul Labrador, the attorney general of the rural, western state, called the decision a "big win to protect vulnerable kids."

"I'm proud to defend Idaho's law that ensures children are not subjected to these dangerous drugs and procedures," he said on X, formerly Twitter.

As debate around trans issues spreads across the country, Republican- and Democratic-led states have diverged on the issue, with states like California, Illinois and Minnesota declaring themselves "sanctuaries" for transgender youth.

Advocates say surgeries for minors are extremely rare and that gender-affirming care is lifesaving for children struggling with gender dysphoria.


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