A tale of two judges

A tale of two judges

A tale of two judges

A pro-family group in North Dakota sees more than one upside in a state judge's recent ruling against the gender manipulation of minors.

The contested law (HB 1254) immediately went into effect when Governor Doug Burgum (R) signed it in April 2023 after overwhelming approval by the GOP-controlled legislature. It makes it a misdemeanor for a healthcare provider to prescribe or give hormone treatments or puberty blockers to a "transgender" child and a felony to perform mutilative surgery on a minor.

Judge Jackson Lofgren ruled earlier this month that he would not issue a preliminary injunction against it, denying the plaintiffs temporary relief while a case continues.

Instead, the ban on so-called "gender-affirming care" for children will continue to be enforced pending a court challenge, but any kids whose treatments began before the law took effect can continue, according to the ruling.

Jorritsma, Mark (Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota) Jorritsma

"They had tried to get a temporary injunction, essentially stop the law from going into effect. They did that back in November of last year," reports Mark Jorritsma of the North Dakota Family Alliance. "That failed. And then they tried once again to do it, and it failed a second time."

He says that is significant because the judge would have only granted an injunction if he thought the plaintiffs likely to prevail if the case moves forward.

"Essentially what it's saying is, 'We're not going to give you a temporary injunction because we don't think the case will probably be successful,'" Jorritsma summarizes. "That's a really positive thing. It's not just the fact that they can't stop the law from functioning as it has been, but it also portends good things for those of us who have gotten the law into place."

Jorritsma, who represents thousands of Christians across North Dakota in the policy arena, acknowledges that gender dysphoria is real, but he also notes that most children grow out of it by the time they reach adulthood.

Meanwhile, several European countries have moved away from gender manipulation procedures and therapies, and Jorritsma thinks this ban is one of the reasons North Dakota was voted the most pro-family state coming out of the last legislative session.

"We're going to keep defending those kids and those families," he asserts.

A judge with an agenda

A federal judge in Florida, however, has let politics drive his ruling against a similar law.

When SB 254 was put into effect in May 2023, it codified into Florida law the ban on "gender-affirming care" for minors, with the exception of patients actively undergoing treatment, and created felony criminal and civil penalties for medical providers.

Now, federal Judge Robert Hinkle, a Clinton appointee, has ruled that the state legislature went too far in protecting children from irreversibly damaging their bodies with drugs and surgery in the impossible quest to become the opposite gender.

Artigues, Dr. Michael (ACPeds) Artigues

"You've got apparently a judge with a bit of an agenda, but more importantly, somebody who's kind of ignoring the fact that more and more evidence is coming forward that the gender-affirming therapies that the law was trying to address and avoid for kids, certainly the drugs and surgeries, are not helpful for them," responds Dr. Michael Artigues, president of the American College of Pediatricians.

Studies continue to show that those so-called treatments do not help the patients, as they have a psychological problem that hormones and surgery will not fix. Dr. Artigues urges the medical associations that approve of those measures to admit they are harming children.

"This topic in particular should really stay away from the politics and get back to the medicine," he contends. "That's where we as medicine itself should hopefully clean our own house in this regard. It's unfortunate that it has gone to courts, it's gone to legislative bodies."

Judge Hinkle said people who are confused about their gender are constitutionally entitled to the legitimate treatment they need and, quoting the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., compared those who oppose it to those who were once against equality for minorities and women.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) office has blasted the ruling, calling it "erroneous" and vowing to appeal.