ALCU sues Indiana on behalf of four trans youth and their parents, citing gender-affirming ban is unconstitutional

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 7:17 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - We’re just a handful of months into 2023 and more than 400 pieces of legislation that take aim at LGBTQ+ issues have popped up in states across the country. The latest such bill was signed into last Wednesday by Governor Eric Holcomb banning gender-affirming care for minors.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the legislation after Republican majorities in the Legislature approved it. The law will go into effect July 1, and trans youth currently taking medication to transition would have until the end of the year to stop doing so.

Republican Senator Mike Braun has praised the bill saying in a statement, “These kids are clearly having a hard time, and we need to give them compassion and mental health help rather than dangerous, un-tested, unapproved drugs and irreversible surgeries.”

In testimony, Indiana health experts have said gender surgeries are already not allowed for youth, and hormone therapies are both safe and reversible.

Not long after the governor signed that bill, the ACLU of Indiana announced they are suing the state on behalf of four transgender youth and their parents.

Nathaniel and Beth Clawson say their daughter will be affected by this bill. They are one of the families filing as plaintiffs on the lawsuit. They note that their plaintiff daughter, currently 10 years old, is fearful about what will happen to her if she cannot get gender-affirming medical care when puberty begins.

“For us, our child has been living as her true self for the past seven years, the idea of her going through the wrong puberty is scary for us and for her,” Clawson said. “I have zero concern about the temporary pausing of puberty for my child but I have so many concerns about my child going through the wrong puberty.”

The 47-page lawsuit claims the ban is a violation of The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“This law would be devastating to trans youth and their families, causing them serious injuries and forcing those who can, to uproot their lives and leave the state to access the gender-affirming care they need,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. “Gender-affirming care is life-saving care for our clients, and they’re terrified of what will happen if this law is allowed to take effect. No child should be cut off from the medical care they need or denied their fundamental right to be themselves — but this law would do both. We’re suing to stop this cruel and unconstitutional law from taking effect and inflicting further harm on these children and their families.”

Governor Eric Holcomb released a statement after the signing of the bill.

“Permanent gender-changing surgeries with lifelong impacts and medically prescribed preparation for such a transition should occur as an adult, not as a minor,” Governor Holcomb said. “There has and will continue to be debate within the medical community about the best ways to provide physical and mental health care for adolescents who are struggling with their own gender identity, and it is important that we recognize and understand those struggles are real. With all of that in mind, I have decided to sign SB 480 into law.”

In addition, Attorney General Todd Rokita has insisted he will defend the bill in court. He also released a statement.

“Although we have many, generous helpers in our communities, we unfortunately have scammers looking to take advantage of others who are hiding in plain sight,” Attorney General Rokita said. “But there are ways Hoosiers can take steps to protect themselves as they begin the process of reconstructing what the storms destroyed.”

The law goes into effect July 1st.