Supreme Court Allows Idaho's Restriction on Gender Care for Transgender Youth to Proceed

Idaho's attorney general has asked the Supreme Court to withdraw a temporary order that a lower court had imposed, preventing the state from carrying out its criminal prohibition on providing "gender-affirming care" to teenagers.

In order to provide individuals with gender dysphoria who want to look more like themselves on the inside, "gender-affirming care" encompasses medical, pharmacological, and surgical treatments such as hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery.

While legal challenges to the act are still proceeding, on Monday the Supreme Court reversed lower courts and allowed Idaho to carry with its ban on gender care for young transgender people.

Attorney General Raúl Labrador, a Republican from Idaho, asked to restrict the reach of a district court ruling from December that had stopped the state's ban, and the justices granted his request.

A law that would go into effect in Idaho in 2023 may punish physicians who treat individuals under the age of 18 with hormone therapy, puberty blockers, or other "gender-affirming" procedures up to a maximum of 10 years in jail. The ruling by the court on Monday makes this feasible.

In December, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill banned the Idaho Vulnerable Child Protection Act. If administered in accordance with guidelines set by organizations such as the Endocrine Society and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), he claims that "gender-affirming" healthcare "is safe, effective, and medically necessary for some adolescents."

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Labrador's January appeal of Winmill's decision in a single phrase. The same three judges rejected Labrador's second appeal, reversing the injunction for the whole of the 9th Circuit.

Labrador said that lower courts have no authority to prevent states from enforcing laws against non-parties to a lawsuit, and he requested in February that the Supreme Court move expeditiously to let Idaho to carry out this legal action. The Supreme Court said on Monday that it agreed.

Generally speaking, injunctions of this kind may only be granted to the extent required to provide the parties temporary relief. But in this instance, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote on Monday, "the district court went much further, prohibiting a State from enforcing any aspect of its duly enacted law against anyone."

The three liberal judges on the court disapproved of the ruling, arguing that the measure ought to have stayed entirely barred.

Although Labrador did not specifically address Monday's ruling in an email, he did say that Idaho "has a duty to protect and support all children."

"I have seen firsthand the terrible effects of treatments and medications given to kids who have gender dysphoria," he said. Moreover, the catastrophe was avoidable.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Idaho, the plaintiffs' attorneys, described Monday's ruling as "an awful result for transgender youth and their families across the state."

The organizations said in a statement that "today's ruling allows the state to shut down the care that thousands of families rely on while sowing further confusion and disruption." "That said, today's outcome has only strengthened our resolve to overturn this law in the courts and make Idaho a safer place for every family to raise a child."

Idaho is the second state after Alabama to make it illegal to provide children with "gender-affirming" medical services. The maximum penalty for the violation is ten years in jail and a $5,000 fine.


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