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Supreme Court Allows Idaho’s Restrictions on Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Youth

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Supreme Court Allows Idaho’s Restrictions on Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Youth
Source: Pinterest

Supreme Court Allows Idaho’s Restrictions on Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Youth

Source: Pinterest

The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to restrict gender-affirming care for transgender youth in the state. This makes the Gem State one of the most recent states to ban gender-affirming care for minors.

What Is Gender-Affirming Care?

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Gender-affirming care, as defined by the World Health Organization, encompasses a range of social, psychological, behavioral, and medical interventions “designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity” when it conflicts with the gender they were assigned at birth. Sometimes, parents help their trans-children to get access to gender-affirming care so they start transitioning from a younger age.

Disagreement Among Justices

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The Supreme Court has allowed Idaho to restrict gender-affirming care and implementation of Idaho’s Vulnerable Child Protection Act. However, this was not a unanimous decision among all the justices. The Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson challenged the enforcement of Idaho’s Vulnerable Child Protection Act. They urged the other justices to take caution while handling this matter.

The Stakes for Doctors

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The Child Protection Act was signed by Governor Brad Little, and it places a high penalty on medical professionals. Physicians who violate the Child Act will face felony charges and up to ten years in prison if they perform gender-transition surgeries on minors. This includes mastectomies and penectomies. Therefore, they will face severe legal consequences and have no choice but to follow the law.

The Ban Goes Beyond Surgical Procedures

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Surgical procedures are not the only procedures that the new laws prohibit. It extends to hormonal treatments, including puberty blockers and hormones for transgender youth.
At first, the law was slated to start getting enforced at the start of the year. However, Judge Lynn Winmill delayed it in December 2023, calling for future patience and review.

Gorsuch Weighed in on the Injunction

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Initially, Justice Neil Gorsuch criticized the broad reach of the injunction that was imposed by Judge Winmill after it was universally applied. He said, “Ordinarily, injunctions like this may go no further than necessary to provide interim relief to the parties.” It also made headlines across the country even though Idaho is not the first state to ban gender-affirmation care.

Limiting the Court’s Reach

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Furthermore, Justice Gorsuch criticized the district court’s extensive prohibition. He said, “In this case, however, the district court went much further, prohibiting a State from enforcing any aspect of its duly enacted law against anyone.”
Gorsuch believes the Supreme Court should have narrowed the injunction’s scope to only the people involved in legal issues concerning gender-affirming care.

Protections Remain for Two Teens

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Although the rule is generalized, there are still specific protections remaining. Politico reported that the decision by the Supreme Court does not affect the two transgender teenagers who initiated a lawsuit with ACLU’s support. Therefore, they are still protected under the original court order. They can continue their treatments in the state while the case continues in the future.

ACLU’s Concern

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The ACLU of Idaho has expressed huge concern about the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. They noted that it is causing a lot of emotional and practical distress to its citizens. They said, “While the Court’s ruling today importantly does not touch upon the constitutionality of the law, it is nonetheless an awful result for transgender youth and their families across the state.”

Idaho’s Attorney General’s Reaction

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On the other hand, Idaho’s Attorney General Raul Labrador is very happy with this ban and sees it as a win for child protection. He said, “This is a BIG win to protect vulnerable kids! Our state has a duty to protect and support all children. I’m proud to defend Idaho’s law that ensures children are not subjected to dangerous drugs and procedures.”

Legal Battle Continues

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The legal proceedings on this ban are far from over. The Gem State’s Vulnerable Child Protection Act is now in place but there is an appeal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in progress. Therefore, they are waiting on the outcome of this lawsuit brought by the transgender plaintiffs against the state. If they are successful, it could reverse the law and change things for the state.

The Legislative Shift

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Idaho joins over twenty states that have put these laws against gender-affirming care for minors. They include Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming, Kentucky, and Louisiana. This shows that there is a broad national debate in most states over the rights and medical treatment of transgender minors in the country.

What Happens Now?

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The Supreme Court’s ruling could also influence a lot of other states which are yet to take a definite stance. As the legal battles continue, the outcome could affect the decisions of other states, making them sway towards a ban for their citizens too. Will all the states in America end up banning gender-affirming care for the youth? Or would they continue to fight against this legislation and win?