ACLU sues Idaho over criminalization of gender-affirming care for minors News
JSquish, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
ACLU sues Idaho over criminalization of gender-affirming care for minors

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Idaho Wednesday to prevent the enforcement of its law criminalizing doctors who provide gender-affirming care to minors.

The lawsuit names Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, the prosecuting attorney for a county in Idaho and members of the Idaho Code Commission as defendants. The ACLU brought the lawsuit on behalf of two families, known as the Poe and Doe families, who both have transgender children currently receiving  gender-affirming care in Idaho. Plaintiffs argue that the ban on gender-affirming care for minors is both harmful to children, as studies show gender-affirming care improves mental health, and is unconstitutional. The ACLU argues that the ban violates the equal protection clause found in the Fourteenth Amendment. Additionally, the plaintiffs claim it violates parents’ fundamental right to make healthcare decisions for their children.

Idaho Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 71 into law in April. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2024. Called the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, the law makes doctors providing gender-affirming healthcare to minors a felony, criminalizing prescribing puberty blockers, performing a mastectomy and operating on or removing any “nondiseased” tissue.  The law allows for exceptions to the outright ban if it is necessary for the health of the child, but explains that gender-affirming surgeries on reproductive organs and genitals is “never” necessary to the health of the child if it is solely for the purpose of affirming one’s gender.

Many have raised alarm over gender-affirming surgeries performed on minors; however, experts have challenged the existence of this practice in the US. Louisiana’s Department of Health released a study that found there were no gender-affirming surgeries performed on minors from 2017-2021.

The ACLU has also challenged Nebraska’s restrictions on gender-affirming care and abortion.