Appeals Court Allows Indiana Ban on Transition Care for Minors to Take Effect

Indiana’s ban on hormone treatments and puberty blockers for transgender minors can go into effect, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday, undoing a lower court decision last year that had largely blocked the law.

The three-paragraph ruling by a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, based in Chicago, said it was staying a preliminary injunction that the district court had issued in June, just before the law was scheduled to take effect last summer.

The appellate judges did not explain their reasoning but simply said that a full opinion on the case would be issued in the future.

The decision further unsettles the national legal landscape around transgender care for minors, with bans blocked in some states but not others, and it could lead to abrupt changes in treatment for young people in Indiana.

“This ruling is beyond disappointing and a heartbreaking development for thousands of transgender youth, their doctors and their families,” the American Civil Liberties Union and the A.C.L.U. of Indiana, which brought the lawsuit challenging the ban, said in a statement. “As we and our clients consider our next steps, we want all the transgender youth of Indiana to know this fight is far from over,” the statement added.

The Indiana attorney general, Todd Rokita, whose office defended the law in court, said on social media that “we are proud to win this fight.”

“Our common-sense state law, banning dangerous and irreversible gender-transition procedures for minors, is now enforceable,” said Mr. Rokita, a Republican.

Republican-led states have raced to ban gender-transition care for minors in recent years, leading to a series of lawsuits in federal and state courts that so far have had mixed results. Many legal experts on both sides of the issue expect the legality of the bans to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Indiana ban passed the Republican-controlled legislature last spring by large margins and was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican. Supporters of the law claimed they were seeking to protect young people from making life-altering decisions that they might later regret.

Families of transgender children sued to block the law, saying that it would put transgender youths at immediate risk of unwanted changes to their bodies, which would have lifelong consequences.

A federal district judge, James Patrick Hanlon, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump, temporarily blocked portions of the law banning hormone treatments and puberty blockers for minors while the lawsuit proceeded. He allowed a ban on gender-transition surgeries for minors to take effect as scheduled.

But after hearing arguments this month, a three-judge panel from the Seventh Circuit, made up of two judges appointed by Republican presidents and one appointed by a Democratic president, lifted Judge Hanlon’s injunction.

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