Families of transgender youth file new motion in Idaho gender care lawsuit

Request for preliminary injunction asks court to prevent ban on health care from going into effect until lawsuit is settled

By: - July 21, 2023 8:00 pm

Idaho State Capitol building in Boise on March 20, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

The families of two transgender teens, who are suing Idaho officials in federal court over a new law that would ban transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming care, have made a new motion in the lawsuit.

On Friday, the families filed for a preliminary injunction — a move that asks the court to prevent the ban from going into effect until the lawsuit is settled.

Filed by the families in June, the lawsuit is meant to keep Idaho officials from enforcing House Bill 71.

The law is set to take effect in January, and it would ban transgender youth from accessing gender care such as puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries — even though gender-affirming surgeries are not performed in Idaho. The law also makes it a felony for any medical practitioner to help a minor seek gender-affirming treatment, and breaking the law would carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

According to a press release from the ACLU of Idaho on Friday, the two families involved in the lawsuit have transgender children who are receiving medical care that would be prohibited should the law take effect.

The families are using anonymous surnames Poe and Doe to protect the minor patients’ identities.

Jane Doe, a 16-year-old transgender girl, said in the original ACLU of Idaho press release announcing the lawsuit that it has been a long journey to live as her “true self.”

“My family, my doctors, and I have worked together to make decisions about my medical care, and it’s shocking to have politicians take those decisions away from us,” she said.

The families filed the lawsuit against Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts and members of the Idaho Code Commission within the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.

Bennetts’ and Labrador’s offices previously told the Idaho Capital Sun that they do not comment on pending or ongoing litigation, and a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office told the Idaho Capital Sun on Friday that they also do not comment on pending litigation.

‘A troubling trend’: Idaho joins other states in similar litigation

The families are represented by attorneys in Idaho and from national and global law firms including ACLU of Idaho and Wrest Collective in Boise; and the national arm of the American Civil Liberties Union; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; and Groombridge, Wu, Baughman & Stone LLP.

The new motion asserts that a preliminary injunction is necessary to prevent “irreparable harm to Idahoans” while the case is pending.

Senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBTQ and HIV Project Li Nowlin-Sohl said that Idaho’s law is part of a “troubling trend” in the country targeting transgender people’s access to gender-affirming medical care.

The Idaho plaintiffs join families in Arkansas, Montana, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and

Indiana who are also suing state officials alongside the ACLU to prevent gender-affirming health care bans for youth in their states.

Court-ordered preliminary injunctions are in effect against similar bans in Alabama, Florida, Indiana and Kentucky, according to the press release.

Wrest Collective attorney Ritchie Eppink said he is hopeful Idaho’s federal court will follow in Arkansas’ footsteps, referring to June 20, when an Arkansas judge struck down a ban on gender-affirming health care for youth, finding that the ban violated the constitutional rights of transgender youth, their parents and their doctors.

Eppink said he hopes Idaho’s federal court will rule in the families’ favor and prevent “discriminatory harm from reaching Idaho families.”

“There is no justification for banning all gender-affirming medical care for young Idahoans with gender dysphoria,” ACLU of Idaho executive director Leo Morales said in a press release Friday. “The ban prohibits care that the youth, their parents, and their doctors all agree is medically necessary, and which is supported by every major medical association in the U.S.”

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Mia Maldonado
Mia Maldonado

Mia Maldonado joined the Idaho Capital Sun after working as a breaking news reporter at the Idaho Statesman covering stories related to crime, education, growth and politics.