Four Parents Are Suing Alabama Over ‘Unthinkable’ Ban on Trans Healthcare

Joining the parents are a clergy member and two medical professionals who regularly treat trans kids in the state.

Four Parents Are Suing Alabama Over ‘Unthinkable’ Ban on Trans Healthcare
Photo:Julie Bennett (Getty Images)

Brianna Boe and her 12-year-old transgender son, Michael, live in Montgomery, Alabama. A lawsuit she just filed (under the pseudonym) against the state describes Michael as a happy child, initially; but at age 9, he “became depressed and anxious” and “started struggling academically and socially.”

In June 2021, Michael told Brianna that he was trans. He started to transition socially with a new name and male pronouns, and since then, “his mood has improved greatly.” Earlier this year, Brianna reached out the Children’s Hospital of Alabama to make an appointment for Michael to start evaluating what, if any, medical options could be available. But, the lawsuit contends, if a new state law goes into effect in May criminalizing providing transgender healthcare to kids, the appointment will be cancelled and Michael won’t be able to get even an initial assessment.

Boe is one of four parents on behalf of their children are challenging the anti-trans law in federal court. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, asks the court to block the law from going into effect on May 8 while the case proceeds.

All parents are challenging the law anonymously because of the potential criminal liability in the new law as well as the safety of their families. S.B. 184 punishes parents and medical providers for administering or suggesting gender-affirming healthcare to trans kids, the suit alleges. If the law goes into effect, violations could be punished as a felony with up to 10 years in prison. The law also bans surgeries on minor’s genitals, which do not happen in Alabama anyway.

Another plaintiff, Megan Poe, is the mother of 15-year-old Allison. Their story, detailed in the legal filing, is harrowing. As a young child, her parents refused to buy Allison girl toys and clothing “thinking it was a phase.” But her grandmother’s surprise Barbie doll gift became a balm. “Allison was so happy and carried it everywhere,” the filing states.

Upon returning from an abroad military deployment, the family again had to confront Allison’s displeasure with her assigned gender. “When the family returned to the United States from her father’s military deployment abroad, Allison would become very upset when her mother refused to buy her girls’ clothes. As a compromise, Megan bought Allison a few girls’ toys. Eventually, Allison’s father found them and attempted to throw them away, but Allison’s brother snuck them back into the house,” the filing states.

At age 9, Allison started to show signs of depression and “regularly” said she wanted to die. After an evaluation at the gender clinic at UAB Hospital, Megan realized she had a choice to make for her child. They redecorated her room and bought her new clothing. “The first time Allison came out of her room in girls’ clothes, she was beaming with joy,” the filing states.

“I know people who don’t have a transgender child may not understand my experience,” Megan said in a statement. “I have done everything I can to learn about what my daughter is going through, and being able to seek guidance from our pediatrician and medical specialists was a turning point for our family.”

As Allison began high school, she was again evaluated by her medical team and began taking estrogen. “With that support and care Allison has become a confident and social teenager who is thriving in school. Without it, I’m terrified she will again become withdrawn, depressed, or even worse. I only want what’s best for my daughter, like any parent,” Megan said in a statement.

It’s unclear how far this lawsuit will proceed up the judicial food chain, as southern states are committed to withholding trans healthcare for minors. However, a similar Arkansas law passed in 2021 was blocked by a federal court. In March, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division reminded all state attorneys general that denying access to healthcare because someone is transgender violates federal protection.

“I only want what’s best for my daughter, like any parent,” Megan said. “For the state to take away my ability to provide that essential care and support is unthinkable.”

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