An Alabama judge has partially blocked the state’s harmful anti-LGBTQ+ law that criminalises gender-affirming care for trans youth. 

Back in April, Governor Kay Ivey signed the horrific Senate Bill 184 (SB 184) into law.

Under SB 184, also known as The Vulnerable Child Protection Act, medical professionals will face felony charges for offering gender-affirming care to trans youth under the age of 18 years old.

If an individual is found guilty of providing puberty blockers, hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgeries, the penalty could be $15,000 with up to 10 years in prison.

According to a report from NBC News, the bill makes Alabama the first state to implement felony penalties for giving gender-affirming care to minors.

Shortly after the law was signed, four families, two doctors and a member of the clergy filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation as an “unconstitutional violation of equal protection and free speech rights and an intrusion into parental decisions”.

The US Department of Justice also joined the suit by filing a formal complaint to block the law from taking effect on 8 May.

“The law discriminates against transgender minors by unjustifiably denying them access to certain forms of medically necessary care,” the motion said. 

Unfortunately on 8 May, the law proceeded to go into effect despite the motion to delay the legislation.

However on 13 May, US District Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the bill’s felony consequences.

According to a report from NPR, the judge’s ruling allows medical professionals to prescribe gender-affirming medication without legal ramifications.  

In his official opinion, Burke said the injunction was implemented due to the lack of evidence that shows puberty blockers and hormones are “experimental”.

He also referenced “the uncontradicted record evidence” of 22 medical associations across the US that “endorse transition medications as well-established evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria in minors.” 

“Enjoining the act upholds and reaffirms the ‘enduring American tradition’ that parents – not the states or federal courts – play the primary role in nurturing and caring for their children,” Burke added. 

Shortly after Judge Burke’s decision, LGBTQ+ activists expressed their gratitude for the injunction. 

Paediatrician Dr Morissa Ladinsky said the ruling was a “huge relief for transgender children and their families”.

“The court’s decision recognises that this is well-established care that has been endorsed by 22 major medical associations,” Ladinsky explained.

“This decision will ensure transgender children in Alabama can continue to receive this evidence-based well known life-saving care.”

Even though this is a slight win for trans youth, other aspects of the bill are still intact. 

This includes the banning of gender-affirming surgeries on minors – which is already not practised in the state – and counsellors being required to out trans children to their parents or caregivers.