Biden Admin Challenges Alabama Law That Bans Transgender Procedures, Substances for Youth

By Gabrielle Stephenson
Gabrielle Stephenson
Gabrielle Stephenson
Gabrielle Stephenson is a reporter covering world news. She is currently based in Australia.
April 29, 2022 Updated: April 29, 2022

The Department of Justice under the Biden administration filed a complaint on Friday to challenge a new Alabama law that bans certain transgender procedures and substances for people under 18.

The Justice Department’s complaint (pdf) alleges that the new Alabama law “violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause” by discriminating on the basis of sex and transgender status. The department asked the court to issue an immediate order to prevent the law from going into effect.

“S.B. 184 makes it a felony for any person to ‘engage in or cause’ specified types of medical care for transgender minors. S.B. 184 thus discriminates against transgender youth by denying them access to certain forms of medically necessary care,” the department said in a release announcing the complaint.

The lawsuit is the latest action the department is taking to “combat discrimination based on gender identity,” it noted, adding that earlier this year, on March 31, its Civil Rights Division wrote to all U.S. state attorneys general “reminding them of federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender youth against discrimination.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on April 8 signed into law SB 184, known as the “Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.” The measure makes it a felony to provide certain procedures or substances “that [are] intended to alter the appearance of the minor child’s gender or delay puberty,” such as hormone treatment, puberty blockers, or gender-identity affirming surgery that includes sterilization.

Ivey’s signature made Alabama the third in the country to have legislation restricting the provision of transition-related procedures or substances, and the first in the country to impose criminal penalties, whereby medical providers could face up to 10 years in prison if they are found guilty.

The bill would also ban school staff from withholding information from the parent or legal guardian when a “minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”

On the same day the Justice Department filed its complaint, Ivey released a video on her Twitter page accompanied by a written statement: “Some things are just facts: summer is hot, the ocean is big, and gender is a question of biology, not identity.”

The video said that Ivey “banned transgender youth sports, banned left-wing propaganda in our schools, and made it a felony for transgender surgery on children in Alabama.”

Ivey on April 8 signed a separate bill that bars students from using bathrooms not based on their birth sex, and also prohibits classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-5. And last year, Ivey signed a bill banning student athletes from competing in K–12 sports that don’t match their birth sex.

“Here in Alabama, we’re going to go by how God made us,” Ivey is seen saying in the video. “Because we identify with something liberals never will—reality.”

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.

Gabrielle Stephenson is a reporter covering world news. She is currently based in Australia.