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Friday, April 29, 2022

Justice Department Challenges Alabama Law that Criminalizes Medically Necessary Care for Transgender Youth

The Justice Department today filed a complaint challenging a recently enacted Alabama law, Senate Bill (S.B.) 184, that denies necessary medical care to children based solely on who they are, and that threatens criminal prosecution and jail time to doctors, parents, and anyone else who provides or “causes” that care. The United States’ complaint alleges that the new law’s felony ban on providing certain medically necessary care to transgender minors violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The department is also asking the court to issue an immediate order to prevent the law from going into effect.

S.B. 184 makes it a felony for any person to “engage in or cause” specified types of medical care for transgender minors. S.B. 184 thus discriminates against transgender youth by denying them access to certain forms of medically necessary care. It further discriminates against transgender youth by barring them from accessing particular procedures while allowing non-transgender minors to access the same or similar procedures. The penalties for violating the law include up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000. S.B. 184 would force parents of transgender minors, medical professionals, and others to choose between forgoing medically necessary procedures and treatments, or facing criminal prosecution. The United States’ complaint alleges that S.B. 184 violates the Equal Protection Clause by discriminating on the basis of sex and transgender status.

Today’s filing is the latest action by the Justice Department to combat discrimination based on gender identity, including unlawful restrictions on medical care for transgender youth. On March 31, 2022, the Civil Rights Division issued a letter to all state attorneys general reminding them of federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender youth against discrimination.

The complaint in intervention is being handled by Deputy Chief Coty Montag and Trial Attorneys Alyssa Lareau, Kaitlin Toyama, and Renee Williams of the Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section; John Powers, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Cheek for the Northern District of Alabama; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Wadsworth for the Middle District of Alabama.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division’s work to uphold and protect the civil and constitutional rights of LGBTQI+ individuals is available on its website at https://www.justice.gov/crt/lgbtqi-working-group. Complaints about discriminatory practices may be reported to the Civil Rights Division through its internet reporting portal at https://civilrights.justice.gov.

Updated April 29, 2022