Families and Medical Providers Urge Montana Court to Block Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

Affiliate: ACLU of Montana
September 14, 2023 2:41 pm

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HELENA – Attorneys representing transgender youth, their families, and their medical providers will urge a Montana state court to block enforcement of the state’s recent ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. On September 18, 2023, a District Court Judge in Missoula County will hear arguments from the plaintiffs and the State of Montana as it considers an emergency request to pause enforcement of the new law.

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, which bans the only evidence-based care for gender dysphoria for transgender people under 18. The plaintiffs argue the law violates their rights under the Montana Constitution, including the right to privacy, equal protection and the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. SB 99 was one of several laws considered and passed by the 2023 Legislature targeting transgender Montanans.

“Montana’s ban is a direct assault on the freedom and well-being of transgender youth, their families, and their medical providers,” said Malita Picasso, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “Like other bans across the country, SB 99 is an openly-discriminatory law targeting the only safe and effective care for transgender youth. We’ll continue to fight this law until all transgender Montanans have the health care they need.”

“Here in Montana we value our right to privacy and respect families and the decisions they make,” said Alex Rate, legal director for the ACLU of Montana. “The Government has no business inserting itself between a family and the health care provider of their choice.”

“It is unconscionable that the State of Montana would seek to insert itself in a decision that rightly belongs with the youth in consultation with their doctor and their parents,” Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Peter Renn said. “It is not only cruel, but unconstitutional and a blatant invasion of privacy, and we look forward to making that case in court.”

District courts have unanimously blocked such bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In August 2023, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Alabama’s ban to take effect while a legal challenge against it proceeds. On September 1, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on lower court rulings blocking bans in Kentucky and Tennessee.

In June 2023, a federal court in Arkansas struck down that state’s ban on gender-affirming care in the first ruling on the merits of such a law, finding it violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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