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California leads 20 states to stop Indiana ban on gender-change drugs for minors

(The Center Square) – California Attorney General Rob Bonta is leading a 20-state effort to oppose an Indiana law preventing children under 18 from using puberty blockers and other hormonal drugs used for transgender conversion.

Indiana’s S.E.A. 480 bans medical and surgical procedures to “alter a child’s physical characteristics in a way inconsistent with their biological sex,” including “surgeries that remove or add body parts associated with a given gender – such as genital removal or breast removal” and “treatments using puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for the purpose of developing characteristics inconsistent with a child’s sex.”

Notably, the bill does not restrict access to counseling for children dealing with gender dysphoria or treatment of physical sex disorders.

“As we continue to witness the growing number of attacks against our LGBTQ+ community in California and across the nation, today’s legal action is a testament to our ongoing commitment to ensuring the rights of transgender youth are safeguarded and fully available,” Bonta said in a statement announcing the filing of the multistate amicus brief. 

In the brief, similar to that filed by Bonta and other states against Kentucky and Tennessee blocking similar procedures for minors, Bonta argues the ban “significantly harms the health and lives of transgender people by denying them medically necessary care that protects their physical, emotional, and psychological health” and is “discriminatory and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by banning medical treatment for transgender youth.” 

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association using data from more than 6.6 million individuals in Denmark, the study found those who identify as transgender have 7.7 times the rate of suicide attempts and 3.5 times the rate of suicide deaths compared to the broader population. 

U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the bill in June until the law could be further debated in court.

“Defendants have shown that there are important reasons underlying the State’s regulation of gender transition procedures for minors. Still, Plaintiffs have carried their burden of showing some likelihood of success on their claims that S.E.A. 480 would violate their equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and free speech rights under the First Amendment,” wrote Hanlon in his preliminary injunction. 

In filing today’s amicus brief, Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

In his release, Bonta tied his effort at blocking S.E.A. 480 to his lawsuit to stop Chino Valley Unified School District’s policy of requiring parents to be notified if their child is involved in violence, talks about committing suicide, or starts using a different bathroom, name, or gender identity than what is listed on official birth records. This policy, Bonta argues, “threatens to cause transgender students with mental, emotional, psychological, and potential physical harm.”

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