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Van Garderen et al v. State of Montana

Location: Montana
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: May 8, 2024

What's at Stake

Transgender adolescents, their parents, and two medical providers who work with transgender youth are challenging a 2023 Montana law that bans gender-affirming care for trans youth. The plaintiffs charge the law with violating their rights under the Montana Constitution, including the right to equal protection, the right to access medical care, and the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.

In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Montana, Lambda Legal, and Perkins Coie, three families with transgender youth and two medical providers who work with transgender youth are challenging SB 99, signed by Governor Gianforte in April 2023, which bans the only evidence-based care for gender dysphoria for transgender people under 18.

Plaintiffs include Jessica and Ewout van Garderen and their 16-year-old transgender daughter Scarlet; Molly and Paul Cross and their 15-year-old transgender son Phoebe; Jane and John Doe joining on behalf of their 15-year-old transgender daughter; Dr. Juanita Hodax of Community Medical Center, and Dr. Katy Mistretta of Bozeman Creek Family Health.

“It is mentally and physically painful to feel like you are trapped in the wrong body,” said Jessica van Garderen, mother of a transgender daughter. “Going through puberty for the wrong sex is like having your body betray you on a daily basis. The only treatment we have found to be effective and give our daughter hope again is hormone therapy. The difference we have experienced is night and day and there is no going back. Taking away this crucial medical care is inhumane and a violation of our rights. We will fight this law for our daughter and every other family whose rights are being trampled.”

“I will never understand why my representatives are working to strip me of my rights and the rights of other transgender kids,” said Phoebe Cross, a 15-year-old transgender boy. “Just living as a trans teenager is difficult enough, the last thing me and my peers need is to have our rights taken away. There were many things I hoped my elected officials would achieve, this regression in human rights is not one of those things. The blatant disrespect for my humanity and existence is deeply unsettling.”

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