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DOJ just took biggest step yet to counter GOP's anti-trans agenda

The Justice Department's fight against anti-trans bigotry in Alabama could be a warning to other states.


The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to block an Alabama law that prohibits gender-affirming care for transgender children. 

“All people, including transgender youth, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” the DOJ said in its complaint. “And the Fourteenth Amendment demands that Alabama not ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’”

Last month, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 184 into law, making it a felony for medical professionals to provide medications to delay or block puberty, reconstructive surgery and other forms of gender-affirming care to anyone younger than 19 years old.

That law was just one amid a recent wave of Republican-backed measures meant to marginalize trans people by restricting their access to health care, prohibiting them from playing on certain sports teams, and restricting schools’ ability to discuss gender identity in the classroom. Alabama has adopted all of those policies, which may be why the DOJ is focusing on that state in particular. Friday’s lawsuit marks the first time the department has sued a state over restrictions on gender-affirming care.

Transgender Rights Advocates Rally Against Alabama Legislation
Opponents of several bills targeting transgender youth attend a rally at the Alabama State House in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 30, 2021.Julie Bennett / Getty Images, file

Just days before Ivey signed S.B. 184, the DOJ sent a letter to state attorneys general warning states not to violate trans children’s constitutional rights. 

“Today’s letter reaffirms state and local officials’ obligation to ensure that their laws and policies do not undermine or harm the health and safety of children, regardless of a child’s gender identity,” wrote Kristen Clarke, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.  

Children’s health experts overwhelmingly back the DOJ’s stance in its lawsuit. The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association all oppose policies restricting gender-affirming care for trans minors and say such policies can harm their well-being. 

Republicans nationwide are trying to stupefy Americans about discussions concerning gender identity and, on the back of that ignorance, usher in a host of anti-trans bills. With its lawsuit against Alabama, the Biden administration is taking its strongest stance yet against conservatives' anti-trans bigotry.