Families Urge Supreme Court to Allow Block to Remain on Idaho Ban on Medical Care for Transgender Youth

Affiliate: ACLU of Idaho
February 28, 2024 12:59 pm

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WASHINGTON – Two transgender youth and their parents have asked the Supreme Court of the United States to reject an application from the state of Idaho for a partial stay against an injunction currently blocking enforcement of a ban on gender-affirming medical care. The State is asking the Court to allow it to enforce the law with an exception for the Plaintiffs. Given the penalty of up to ten year’s imprisonment for doctors who violate the law, and the fact that the plaintiffs are anonymous in the case, such a ruling would jeopardize their ability to get care.

“Being able to medically transition and see myself, and be seen by others, as the girl I am absolutely saved my life,” said Jane Doe, a transgender 17-year-old girl from Idaho and plaintiff in this case alongside her parents. “Before I told my parents I was transgender, I was isolating myself, depressed, and anxious, and I felt trapped and scared almost daily. I could not see a future for myself — much less the one I have now with the support of my parents, my friends, my school, and my community. I am so grateful that when I told my parents about what I was experiencing, they listened to me, trusted me, and took me to providers who could give me the gender-affirming health care that I needed. I shouldn’t be forced to go without the care my family, my doctors, and I know is right for me.”

In a lawsuit filed in May 2023, two Idaho families assert that HB 71, signed into law by Gov. Brad Little, violates the rights of transgender youth and their parents under the U.S. Constitution. In December 2023, a federal district court judge found the families likely to succeed in their challenge and blocked enforcement of HB 71 while the case goes forward, issuing a preliminary injunction.

After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Idaho’s request for a stay of the injunction to allow the ban to take effect while the appeal proceeds, Idaho asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay and allow the state to generally enforce HB 71 while the appeal is pending. Today’s filing urges the Supreme Court to deny this extraordinary request and maintain the injunction from the lower court blocking the law. A stay of an injunction at this stage of the legal proceedings by the Supreme Court is rare.

Poe v. Labrador was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Idaho, W/rest Collective, and Groombridge, Wu, Baughman & Stone LLP,

“As this lawsuit makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the State’s intention of trying to erase and undermine the existence of transgender Idahoans has rung clear to our community,” said Paul Carlos Southwick, ACLU of Idaho legal director. “Idaho’s ban is a baseless and dangerous assault on the rights of families to determine what’s best for their transgender youth. Like every other political attack against this medical care, HB 71 is openly discriminatory and a danger to the very youth it claims to protect, injecting politics between their families and their doctors while denying them best-practice, evidence-based medical care.”

“In the interest of our plaintiffs and their rights under the U.S. Constitution, we strongly urge the court to reject this request for a stay,” said Li Nowlin-Sohl, staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “The state is asking for an impossibility–to be able to generally enforce the law except as it affects the two plaintiffs. However, the health care they receive depends on a network of providers and pharmacists who would nonetheless be impacted if the state’s request is granted. Thus we ask the Court to maintain the injunction currently in place.”

HB 71 bans puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and certain surgeries if they are used to affirm the gender of transgender people under 18, and threatens medical providers who provide this widely accepted care with a felony conviction and up to 10 years in prison.

The brief filed to the Supreme Court today can be found here.

Poe v. Labrador is a part of the ACLU’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Supreme Court Docket.

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