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North Dakota Judge Upholds Ban on New Gender-Transitioning Procedures for Minors

In a significant legal development, a North Dakota judge has declined to halt the enforcement of the state's controversial ban on new gender-transitioning procedures for minors. This decision marks a pivotal moment in an ongoing legal battle challenging the 2023 law that imposes stringent restrictions on medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care to minors.

The plaintiffs in the case, identified as T.D. v. Drew H. Wrigley, consist of three families with transgender-identifying children and Dr. Luis Casas, a pediatric and adult endocrinologist. Represented by the law offices of Ciresi Conlin LLP and advocacy groups The Lawyering Project and Gender Justice, the plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction to pause the law's enforcement until its legality could be fully adjudicated.

Judge Jackson Lofgren, however, ruled on June 5 that the plaintiffs had not met the burden of proof required for such an injunction. As a result, the law remains in effect while the case proceeds through the courts.

The 2023 Law: Provisions and Penalties

The 2023 North Dakota law in question criminalizes various medical procedures aimed at gender transitioning for minors. Specifically, it makes it a Class B felony for healthcare professionals to surgically remove or modify a minor's sexual organs, perform mastectomies, or administer puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to align a child's physical characteristics with their gender identity. Exceptions are made for minors with ambiguous sex characteristics or diagnosed genetic anomalies, as well as for those already receiving such treatments before the law's enactment.

Plaintiffs' Arguments and Legal Grounds

The plaintiffs argue that the law infringes on several constitutional rights, including the children's right to equal protection and bodily autonomy, parents' rights to make medical decisions for their children, and Dr. Casas’s right to due process. Despite these claims, Judge Lofgren's ruling indicated that the plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on these grounds.

Defendants and Representation

The named defendants, including Republican North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley and other state attorneys, are being sued in their official capacities. The defense has maintained that the law is a necessary measure to protect minors from undergoing irreversible medical procedures that they may later regret.

The Path Forward

This ruling allows North Dakota to continue enforcing the ban while the case unfolds, a scenario that could set a precedent for similar laws in other states. The plaintiffs now face the challenge of overcoming Judge Lofgren's initial assessment in their continued fight for what they view as fundamental rights and protections for transgender youth and their families.

As this legal battle progresses, it will undoubtedly draw national attention, highlighting the deep divisions and passionate arguments surrounding gender-affirming care for minors in the United States.


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