Montana judge temporarily blocks enforcement of law to ban gender-affirming medical care for minors

A Montana law that prohibits gender affirming medical care to transgender minors has been temporarily blocked by a state court, ruling Wednesday just four days before the law was set to go into effect.

The Montana bill debate drew attention from across the country this spring, after Republicans punished Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr – the first transgender elected woman to the state Legislature – for criticizing lawmakers who supported it.

District Court Judge Jason Marks agreed that the Montana law passed in 2023 is likely unconstitutional, and will harm the mental and physically health of minors who have gender dysphoria rather than protecting them from experimental treatment, as its supporters claimed.

The judge noted the same Republican-controlled legislature passed a law saying patients, including minors, have a right to receive treatment with experimental drugs — as long as it’s recommended by a health care provider and they give consent.


Marks concluded that the stated intention of the Montana Legislature in passing this law was “disingenuous”. It seemed likely the purpose of the law is to “ban a result deemed undesirable by Montana Legislature, disguised as protection for minors.”

Akilah deernose, executive Director of the ACLU of Montana said in a press release that “Today’s decision allows our clients to breath a sigh of relieve.” This fight is not over. We are looking forward to protecting our clients’ constitutional right and making sure that this hateful legislation never becomes law.

The preliminary injunction will remain in place until a full court trial on the matter can be conducted, but the Department of Justice of the State of New York has said that it will appeal this injunction.

“We are looking forward to presenting all of our factual and legal arguments to protect Montana’s children from dangerous, life-altering drugs and surgeries. We will file a notice today because of the immediate and irreversible harms these procedures cause to children,” said Emilee Catrell, a spokeswoman.

Montana is among at least 22 other states that have banned gender-affirming care for minors. Most of these bans are facing lawsuits. Courts have temporarily blocked some bans, but others were allowed to go into effect. The 6th U.S. The 6th U.S.

In Montana, transgender teens argued that the law would prevent them from receiving gender-affirming health care, violating constitutional rights of equal protection, to seek healthcare, and to dignity.

Two medical providers and their parents both said that the law would interfere with their constitutional rights to make decisions about their children’s medical care.

Malita Pablo, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union said that Montana’s ban was a direct attack on the freedom and health of transgender children, their families and their medical professionals.

The law was intended to ban the use of cross-sex hormonal treatments, puberty blocking agents, and surgical treatments to treat gender dysphoria. However, cisgender children can still receive puberty blocking agents to treat early puberty, or undergo surgical procedures to treat conditions involving intersex.

The ACLU claimed in its complaint that treatments for gender dysphoria met standards of care approved and recognized by major medical groups, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The ban would have irreparable effects on transgender minors receiving treatment. This is because it would exacerbate the anxiety and depression that they experience due to their bodies being incongruent to their gender identity. Picasso made this argument during an 18th September hearing for a preliminary injunction.

The state countered by saying that starting the treatment put transgender kids on a “path of no-return” and continued medical treatment.

Michael Russell, Assistant Attorney General, argued that a child could not consent to a treatment which permanently and irreversibly alters secondary sex traits. Nor can a child consent infertility, sterilization and future sexual dysfunction, or a lifetime of hormonal treatments and other forms medicalization, and the resulting complications.

Zephyr claimed Wednesday that Republicans who voted in favor of the ban did not listen to medical professionals or families who had testified at legislative committee hearings about the life-saving nature of gender-affirming treatment. She was silenced for her opposition.

Zephyr stated in a press release that “now, five months after the adjournment of the legislature, the court ruling has been handed down and they have to listen to it.”