A judge in North Dakota has caused controversy by not blocking the state’s new law banning gender-affirming care for minors. Here’s the full story.
Refusing to Block the Ban
A North Dakota judge has made a crucial decision by refusing to immediately block the state’s ban on gender-affirming health care for minors, delivering an initial setback to those challenging the law’s constitutionality.
Restraining Order Denied
On Monday, District Judge Jackson Lofgren denied a temporary restraining order requested by the plaintiffs, who are families advocating against the ban.
The families had also sought a preliminary injunction to temporarily halt the law’s enforcement while their case progresses, with a hearing scheduled for January.
While expressing disappointment in the ruling, Brittany Stewart of Gender Justice, the lead attorney representing the families and a pediatrician involved in the lawsuit, conveyed confidence in the ultimate resolution: “We’re disappointed in this ruling, but we are confident that when all the evidence has been presented, the court will ultimately find that ending the health care ban permanently is the only just, equitable, and constitutional resolution.”
Five Month Delay
Judge Lofgren based his decision on the plaintiffs’ “nearly five-month delay” in filing their complaint and their argument relying on recognizing a protected class not previously acknowledged by the North Dakota Supreme Court or new applications of state constitutional principles.
Criminalizing Health Care
The North Dakota law criminalizes healthcare providers performing gender-affirmation surgery on minors, making it a felony, and prescribing or administering hormone treatments or puberty blockers to a child, considered a misdemeanor.
Supporters argue that the ban safeguards children from what they perceive as irreversible effects of such treatments and surgeries.
Self Harm Epidemic
On the other hand, opponents contend that it endangers transgender youth, who already face a higher risk of depression, self-harm, and suicide, and emphasize that no such surgeries were being performed in North Dakota.
Keeping the Law Vague
While a grandfather clause was included for children already undergoing treatments before Republican Governor Doug Burgum signed the law in April, providers find it vague, leading to a reluctance to take the risk.
Out of State
Consequently, families have been compelled to travel out of state to secure gender-affirming care for their children.
Multiple States, Multiple Lawsuits
North Dakota joins approximately two dozen states with Republican-led legislatures that have implemented bans on gender-affirming care for minors in recent years, triggering multiple ongoing lawsuits.
In several states, judges have temporarily halted the enforcement of these bans while legal proceedings unfold, illustrating the contentious nature of these laws and the deep divides in perspectives on gender-affirming care for minors.
The news led to a lot of controversy online, with many users arguing for, and against, the perceived benefits and harms of gender-affirming care.
“What Happened Was Not Right”
One commenter, who clearly supported the ban, posted “One day there will be an epidemic of young adults that grew up and realized what happened was not right, they were not ready for such a life change, with regret they will suffer a lifetime for these choices.”
“Pushing Their Agenda”
However, others spoke out against the judges decision, with one such user posting “I’m curious to know why Republicans think they can push their agenda on others. We know hypocrisy is the conservative way. What happened to letting the parents and not politicians decide?”
“Cuts the Rate of Depression”
Another pointed out that the gender-affirming care given to children was often not permanent, which is usually the case with the care given to adults, commenting, “A doctor following appropriate medical guidelines will not do anything permanent to a minor child. A parent who properly researches the subject for themselves wouldn’t allow it. There is nothing wrong with giving a child gender-affirming care. It cuts the rates of depression and suicide by more than half.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Denis—S. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.