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North Dakota judge upholds ban on sex-change surgery and hormones for minors
Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP via Getty Images

North Dakota judge upholds ban on sex-change surgery and hormones for minors

A judge in North Dakota has dismissed a request to stop a law that has banned sex-change surgeries or hormone therapy for minors.

Three families and a pediatrician sued the state of North Dakota in mid-September 2023 and claimed that the ban on the procedures for children violated their civil rights by restricting their right to make personal medical decisions.

As reported by the Daily Caller, the lawsuit would have declared the law to be void and also asked for a temporary injunction while the case was ongoing.

Burleigh County Judge Jackson Lofgren denied the motion and noted that the lawsuit wasn't filed until five months after the law was in place.

North Dakota Republican Governor Doug Burgum signed the bill into law in April 2023. He said it was "aimed at protecting children from the life-altering ramifications of gender reassignment surgeries," the Associated Press reported.

The law made exceptions for medications for early-onset puberty or other rare circumstances, with parental consent. Minors with ongoing treatments were also allowed to continue.

The judge further explained that a restraining order on the law would allege that it is unconstitutional and thus is "one of the most extreme reliefs," Inforum reported. Therefore, the judge continued, plaintiffs must prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the ban violates constitutional rights.

Lofgren went on to state that the alleged "protected class" is not recognized by the state.

"The plaintiffs argue the challenged statutes are subject to strict scrutiny,” Lofgren reportedly wrote. "However, this heightened scrutiny hinges upon inclusion in a protected class not previously recognized by the North Dakota Supreme Court or a new application of state constitutional principles."

Punishments in the state for a doctor who performs a sex-change surgery or provides puberty blockers to a minor include up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, or up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Governor Burgum had also signed a bathroom bill in April 2023 that posited that restrooms and shower rooms are "exclusively for males or exclusively for females."

However, for prisons it also stated that an "administrator or correctional facility staff member shall provide a reasonable accommodation for an inmate, including a transgender or gender-nonconforming inmate, as deemed appropriate by the administrator."

It did not provide a definition for nor state what a "reasonable accommodation" would be.

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