Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Thousands of people took to the streets of New York City on July 26, 2017 in opposition to anti-trans policy moves by then-President Donald Trump.

Thousands of people took to the streets of New York City on July 26, 2017 in opposition to anti-trans policy moves by then-President Donald Trump. (Photo: Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Alabama Parents Seek Emergency Court Order to Block Criminalization of Trans Youth Care

"Our family is challenging this cruel law because it infringes on our ability as parents to ensure our child receives appropriate medical care, and targets transgender youth simply for being transgender," said one plaintiff.

Kenny Stancil

Four families, a pair of medical providers, and a minister in Alabama have asked a federal court to prevent a newly enacted state law that criminalizes parents who seek and doctors who provide or suggest gender-affirming healthcare for trans children from taking effect in just over two weeks.

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

The new legal challenge, Rev. Eknes-Tucker v. Ivey, was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama - Northern Division. Because the plaintiffs face potential felonies and denial of essential medical care for their transgender children under S.B. 184, they asked the court to stop the punitive measure, which includes up to 10 years in prison, from going into effect while their case against it moves forward.

The so-called "Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act"—one of dozens of anti-trans bills introduced by GOP lawmakers nationwide—was passed by Alabama's Republican-controlled Legislature on April 7 and signed into law by right-wing Gov. Kay Ivey the following day. Unless enjoined, the legislation takes effect on May 8.

The families pursuing an emergency court order to block the law come from across Alabama and are proceeding anonymously, using pseudonyms, due to the risk of criminal prosecution under S.B. 184. They are Brianna Boe and her 12-year-old transgender son, Michael Boe of Montgomery; James Zoe and his 13-year-old transgender son Zachary Zoe of Birmingham; Megan Poe and her 15-year-old transgender daughter Allison Poe of Northern Alabama; and Kathy Noe and her 17-year-old-transgender son Christopher Noe of Eastern Alabama.

"I know people who don't have a transgender child may not understand my experience," Megan Poe, mother of 15-year-old Allison of Northern Alabama, said Wednesday 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."

"With that support and care Allison has become a confident and social teenager who is thriving in school," said Poe. "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. For the state to take away my ability to provide that essential care and support is unthinkable."

Polling published in August 2020 by Morning Consult and the Trevor Project found that LGBTQ+ youth "are significantly more likely than straight/cis youth to exhibit symptoms of depression, anxiety, and/or both."

Of the 600 LGBTQ+ people ages 13-24 who were surveyed, 55% reported symptoms of anxiety, 53% reported symptoms of depression, and 43% reported symptoms of both in the two weeks preceding the survey. Mental health challenges are even more common among trans and nonbinary youth, with 69%, 66%, and 61% of respondents reporting symptoms of anxiety, depression, or both, respectively.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was recently denounced for her apparent ignorance of the harmful effects of anti-trans sentiment, which she has codified into law, as many Republican officials have done despite the fact that voters overwhelmingly oppose the GOP's assault on the rights of transgender individuals and their loved ones.

James Zoe, father of 13-year-old Zachary of Birmingham, said that "our family is challenging this cruel law because it infringes on our ability as parents to ensure our child receives appropriate medical care, and targets transgender youth simply for being transgender."

"We have the choice to leave our home state of Alabama, or stay and fight," said Zoe. "We have chosen to fight for our child and for all transgender children in Alabama. In the end, we believe this unfair law will be overturned and we will be able to continue providing our child with the medical care he needs."

Last month, a district judge in Travis County, Texas halted far-right Gov. Greg Abbott's attempt to investigate families who obtain gender-affirming healthcare for their children—a move that LGBTQ+ rights advocates welcomed as they vowed to continue fighting against the GOP's attack on transgender people.

The families are joined by a private practice pediatrician in rural Southeast Alabama and a clinical psychologist with the University of Alabama at Birmingham medical system—both of whom are also proceeding pseudonymously due to the risk of criminal prosecution—along with Rev. Paul Eknes-Tucker, senior pastor at Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Birmingham.

"S.B. 184 criminalizes effective, established medical treatment that is recognized as the standard of care in the medical field."

"As a minister, I counsel parents with transgender children about how best to love and support their children. Under S.B. 184, those conversations now come with a risk of criminal prosecution," Eknes-Tucker said. "This dangerous law is an unthinkable infringement on parental rights and the freedom of pastors and other faith leaders to counsel their own parishioners."

Dr. Rachel Koe, the doctor in rural Southeast Alabama, pointed out that "parents come to me seeking trusted medical advice but under S.B. 184 both I and the parents consulting me are subject to a prison sentence for even discussing the best recommendations for supporting their children's health."

"S.B. 184 criminalizes effective, established medical treatment that is recognized as the standard of care in the medical field, including by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association," she added.

The plaintiffs are represented by Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC, King & Spalding LLP, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

"Allowing S.B. 184 to go into effect will cause enormous stress and harm to families across Alabama," said Asaf Orr, senior staff attorney at NCLR and director of its Transgender Youth Project. "A state should not criminalize parents and doctors for following medical guidelines and providing needed medical treatments."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo