Missoula, MT – A Montana state district court judge today blocked enforcement of Senate Bill 99, the discriminatory law that threatens the health and well-being of Montana transgender youth by denying them access to the only evidence-based care for gender dysphoria. In his order. Judge Jason Marks finds SB 99 “is unlikely to survive any level of constitutional review” and “barring access to gender-affirming care would negatively impact gender dysphoric minors’ mental and physical health.”
Missoula County District Court Judge Jason Marks issued the preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of SB99 following last week’s hearing in the challenge to Montana’s law brought by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Montana, and Perkins Coie on behalf of three families with transgender youth and two medical providers who work with transgender youth. The preliminary injunction granted today will allow youth to continue to access gender-affirming care as the lawsuit challenging the law proceeds through court.
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.
“We are gratified the judge understood the danger of denying transgender Montana youth access to gender-affirming care as the challenge to this cruel and discriminatory law proceeds,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kell Olson. “Transgender youth in Montana will continue to thrive, and removing this looming threat to their well-being is an important step in allowing them to do so.”
“We are so thankful for this opportunity to protect trans youth, their families, and their medical providers from this baseless and dangerous law,” said Malita Picasso, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “While this fight is not over, every day that transgender Montanans are able to access this care is a critical and life-saving victory. We will never stop opposing this ban and all others like it until every transgender person has the care and support they need to thrive.”
“Today’s ruling permits our clients to breathe a sigh of relief,” said Akilah Deernose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Montana. “But this fight is far from over. We look forward to vindicating our clients’ constitutional rights and ensuring that this hateful law never takes effect.”
Federal district courts have 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 and will issue a ruling before September 30.
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.
Read today’s ruling here.
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