Indiana’s Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Minors Partially Blocked by Federal Judge

by Andrew Wright
Indiana's Transgender Minors Ban

A block on the Indiana ban against transgender minors accessing puberty blockers and hormones was ordered by a federal judge on Friday, just before its scheduled enforcement on July 1.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana had requested this provisional injunction in its lawsuit against the Republican-supported law, which came into being during the GOP-led national campaign to limit LGBTQ+ rights this spring.

James Patrick Hanlon, U.S. District Court Judge, delivered the order, allowing the law’s ban on gender-affirming surgeries to be implemented. However, Hanlon also blocked parts of the law which would prevent Indiana’s doctors from discussing gender-affirming care for patients under 18 with out-of-state doctors.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit right after Indiana’s Republican Governor, Eric Holcomb, approved the bill on April 5. The case was argued on behalf of four young individuals receiving transgender treatments and a local doctor who provides such services, stating that the ban breached the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and violated parental rights to determine their child’s medical treatment.

Indiana’s Republican-majority Legislature passed the ban following contentious debates, where strong opposition, claiming that gender-affirming care reduces the incidence of depression and suicide among transgender youth, was the focal point of the testimonies.

ACLU leaders, including Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana’s legal director, welcomed Hanlon’s ruling, calling it a triumph in the struggle “to defend the right of all trans people to be their authentic selves, free from discrimination.” Falk added, “We won’t rest until this unconstitutional law is struck down for good.”

Twenty GOP-controlled states have passed laws restricting or banning such medical treatments for transgender minors following Missouri’s governor enacting the state’s bill last week. Legal challenges have emerged against transgender treatment bans in several states. Federal judges have blocked these laws in Alabama and Arkansas, and Oklahoma has agreed to withhold enforcing its ban while awaiting a temporary court order to block it.

Republican Rep. Joanna King of Middlebury, who sponsored the Indiana bill, argued during the debate that the ban would “protect our children from irreversible, harmful, life-altering procedures.”

As of now, the Indiana attorney general’s office has not responded to requests for comments on Hanlon’s decision or whether it would attempt to appeal the injunction before July 1.

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher stated during a court hearing on Wednesday that gender-affirming treatments during puberty could have risks, such as future fertility, bone strength, brain development, and possible reversibility, which have not been sufficiently studied. Fisher argued that these issues gave the Legislature the authority to rule that “we don’t want our children to be part of this grand experiment.”

Despite the prevailing guidelines from leading authorities on gender-affirming medical care suggesting that surgery should generally be reserved for adults, with exceptions for older teenagers who meet specific criteria, the Indiana law demands an outright ban on gender-affirming surgeries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Indiana’s Transgender Minors Ban

What recent ruling was made about the Indiana ban on gender-affirming care for minors?

A federal judge has ordered a halt to the ban in Indiana on puberty blockers and hormones for transgender minors. However, the law’s ban on gender-affirming surgeries was allowed to be implemented.

Who initiated the legal challenge against the Indiana law?

The legal challenge against the Indiana law was initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana.

How does the ruling impact the ability of doctors in Indiana to discuss gender-affirming care with out-of-state colleagues?

The ruling blocks provisions of the law that would have prohibited Indiana doctors from discussing gender-affirming care for patients under 18 with out-of-state doctors.

What has been the national trend regarding legislation about gender-affirming care for transgender minors?

There has been a trend among GOP-led legislatures to enact laws restricting or banning medical treatments for transgender minors, with at least 20 GOP-led states passing such laws.

What potential risks related to gender-affirming treatments were highlighted in the court hearing?

Potential risks highlighted during the court hearing included concerns over future fertility, bone strength, brain development, and the possible reversibility of treatments.

Does the ruling mean that gender-affirming surgeries for minors are banned in Indiana?

Yes, the ruling allows for the implementation of the law’s ban on gender-affirming surgeries for minors in Indiana.

More about Indiana’s Transgender Minors Ban

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Sam J. June 17, 2023 - 1:10 am

Wow this is huge! I mean, it’s a mixed bag but still… a win is a win. can’t believe we’re still fighting for basic rights in 2023 smh…

Mike1984 June 17, 2023 - 6:07 am

I’m conflicted. I get the parents’ rights argument, but then again, the lawmakers are right to, it’s risky procedures and we don’t have enough long-term data :/

MelissaK91 June 17, 2023 - 10:39 am

Joanna King’s argument makes me so mad!! “Life-altering procedures”? Maybe she should listen to the kids who’s lives are being saved by these treatments!!!

Riley T. June 17, 2023 - 12:48 pm

Thank god for the ACLU…they never back down do they? Never heard of this judge before but he’s got my respect now.

JoshB_runner June 17, 2023 - 7:03 pm

It’s time for science and humanity to lead, not outdated prejudices and biases! Equality now!! No to discrimination!!!


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