Judge temporarily blocks enforcement of Idaho law on gender-affirming care for transgender youth - East Idaho News

Judge temporarily blocks enforcement of Idaho law on gender-affirming care for transgender youth

  Published at  | Updated at

BOISE (Idaho Capital Sun) — Transgender youth in Idaho can continue to legally seek gender-affirming care – for now – after a federal judge on Tuesday blocked a controversial law from taking effect until the lawsuit is settled.  

House Bill 71 was signed into law by Idaho Gov. Brad Little in April, and it was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. 

Before Tuesday’s decision, the law would have punished Idaho doctors who prescribe puberty blockers, hormones and other treatments to transgender youth with up to 10 years in prison.

But, the families of two transgender teens receiving gender-affirming care, who sued the state of Idaho, have secured a court order preventing enforcement of the law. 

In Poe v. Labrador, the families allege House Bill 71 violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. On Tuesday, Federal Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted the families’ request for a preliminary injunction — thus blocking the law from going into effect until the lawsuit is settled. 

The lawsuit names Attorney General Raúl Labrador, Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts and members of the Idaho Code Commission. Winmill dismissed the members of the code commission from the lawsuit Tuesday.

Labrador said in an emailed statement that he would immediately appeal the decision.

In his decision, Winmill said the plaintiffs’ claims have “a strong likelihood” of prevailing in court, and that House Bill 71 likely violates the 14th Amendment. 

“Time and again, these cases illustrate that the 14th Amendment’s primary role is to protect disfavored minorities and preserve our fundamental rights from legislative overreach,” Winmill said in the decision. “That was true for newly freed slaves following the Civil War. It was true in the 20th century for women, people of color, inter-racial couples, and individuals seeking access to contraception. And it is no less true for transgender children and their parents in the 21st century.”

Winmill addressed critics in the decision who might say his decision to block the law is “anti-democratic.” But his role in the judiciary is exactly how a constitutional democracy works, he said. 

“The authors of the 14th Amendment fully understood and intended that the amendment would prevent state legislatures from passing laws that denied equal protection of the laws or invaded the fundamental rights of the people,” he said. 

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union; the ACLU of Idaho; Wrest Collective; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Groombridge, Wu, Baughman & Stone LLP; and the two Idaho families.

“This victory is significant for Idaho transgender youth and their parents, and will have an immediate positive impact on their daily lives,” said Leo Morales, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho, in an emailed statement. “This judicial decision is a much-needed ray of hope for trans people amid a years-long onslaught against their rights to access health care and ability to navigate the world around them. Everyone should be free to live and thrive in their authentic identity, which means transgender people should not be shut out of accessing medically sound health care.”