Judge temporarily blocks Ohio gender-affirming care ban

International Transgender Day of Visibility rally and protest in Tucson
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By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - An Ohio judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a Republican-backed state law banning gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers and hormones, for transgender minors from taking effect later this month.

Judge Michael Holbrook of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas said that the two transgender children and their families who are suing to challenge the law, which would also prevent transgender girls from competing on girls' sports teams, would be permanently harmed if the law takes effect on April 24.

The order will remain in place for two weeks, or until a hearing on the families' motion for a longer-term order blocking the law. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in a statement said he was confident the law would be upheld.

"This is just the first page of the book," he said. "We will fight vigorously to defend this properly enacted statute, which protects our children from irrevocable adult decisions."

Ohio is one of at least 22 Republican-controlled states that have passed laws restricting gender-affirming care. Tuesday's ruling comes a day after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Idaho to enforce its ban while it appeals a lower court order blocking it.

Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature passed its law in January.

The vote overrode the veto of Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican who said he made his decision after hearing from parents of transgender youth that gender-affirming care had been lifesaving for their children.

In his ruling, Holbrook said the families who challenged the law were likely to succeed in their argument that it improperly addressed two separate subjects, healthcare and sports, rather than a single subject as required by the Ohio constitution.

He did not directly address whether they were likely to succeed in proving that the law was discriminatory and took away families' right to make choices about their healthcare.

"We are thrilled and relieved that Ohio's ban on gender-affirming healthcare has been halted and that transgender youth can continue, for the near term at least, to access medically necessary healthcare," Freda Levenson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Stephen Coates)