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Attorneys for North Dakota families ask judge to block health care ban for transgender kids

Judge hears first oral arguments as families request temporary restraining order halting enforcement as lawsuit proceeds

11.07.2023 — (PRESS RELEASE) Today, a state district court judge heard the first oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by three transgender children, their families, and their doctor, challenging North Dakota’s ban on essential health care for transgender and nonbinary youth.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent further harm to North Dakota’s transgender and nonbinary youth while the case is pending — and to ultimately block the health care ban permanently as a violation of the North Dakota Constitution.

The families and doctor named as plaintiffs say the health care ban violates the North Dakota Constitution by singling out transgender children for unequal treatment under the law, and represents an unacceptable governmental intrusion into families’ private lives and personal decisions.

“We’re confident we successfully presented the real constitutional issues that need to be resolved by the court and made clear the harm this law is causing in the lives of the kids and families we represent,” said Brittany Stewart, Gender Justice, lead attorney for the families and doctor. “We’re hopeful the judge will issue a temporary restraining order blocking the law’s enforcement while this case proceeds.” 

Represented by Gender Justice, the Lawyering Project, and Ciresi Conlin LLP, the three North Dakota families describe in the lawsuit how their lives and health care have been significantly disrupted by the law. Passed by the North Dakota legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Burgum in April 2023, the law makes it a misdemeanor — with a sentence of up to 360 days in jail and $3,000 in fines — for doctors to provide essential health care such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers to transgender or nonbinary children. It remains legal for doctors to prescribe these medications to children who are not transgender.

Every major medical organization, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association, supports the provision of age-appropriate, gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary people.

Recent research published by the American Medical Association shows that when transgender and nonbinary kids received the very same care that’s been banned for them in North Dakota, their odds of depression decreased by 60 percent and their odds of self-harm and suicide decreased by 73 percent.

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