Transgender minors, families ask Supreme Court to block Tennessee ban | ET REALITY


Transgender youth and their families in Tennessee asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to block the state’s ban on transitional care for minors, asking the nation’s highest court to weigh in for the first time on the issue after a wave of conservative-backed legislation targeting transgender people.

The petition comes a little more than a month after a divided federal appeals panel allowed bans in Tennessee and Kentucky to remain in place, adding to a complicated legal landscape for transgender children and their families. The bans prohibit minors from receiving transitional care, including hormone therapy and puberty blockers. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, any ruling would impact legal challenges in most of the more than 20 states that have passed similar bans.

Conservative lawmakers say the bans are necessary to prevent children from undergoing medical procedures they consider risky and unproven. But transgender people and their families have said the laws have created a stressful and uncertain environment for them and their medical providers about the care they say is essential to their well-being.

In June, a federal judge in Arkansas struck down a ban that was the first of its kind in the country. But since then, conflicting rulings have further complicated access to transitional care: After a series of rulings that stalled implementation of the bans, some judges have allowed the laws to take effect, at least temporarily.

Divisions among federal appeals courts make Supreme Court review more likely, though not guaranteed.

“I am fighting this law because I know how important this care is for tens of thousands of transgender youth like me,” LW, a 15-year-old from Tennessee identified only by her initials in court documents, said in a provided statement. by the American Civil Liberties Union. “I’m scared to think about losing the medication I need.”

Samantha Williams, the teen’s mother, said she wanted the Supreme Court to “see and understand my daughter and recognize her rights under the Constitution like anyone else.”

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has repeatedly defended the state’s ban, calling the appeals court ruling at the end of September “a great victory for democracy.” When asked for comment, a spokeswoman said Skrmetti and his office “look forward to litigating this case to the fullest extent possible.”

Some plaintiffs, including Ms. Williams and her daughter, have argued, with some success, that preventing medical treatment is discrimination based on sex and a violation of a transgender patient’s constitutional rights.

The medical treatment bans for transgender minors are part of a series of laws that Republican-controlled legislatures passed this year that regulate various aspects of transgender people’s lives, including which bathrooms they can use and which sports teams they can play on, and whether students can change their pronouns at school.

That’s the case in Tennessee, where the Republican supermajority in the legislature pushed SB 1, a measure that prevented doctors from providing any new transitional care in July and required an end to that care for current patients in March 2024. The law was temporarily suspended. blocked by a lower court in late June.

But soon after, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit became the first court to overturn a temporary block on such a ban, citing skepticism that the law in question violated constitutional rights. After hearing arguments about the Tennessee law and similar provisions of a Kentucky law, the appeals panel, based in Cincinnati, concluded that the majority’s initial decision stood.

Transgender minors and families who challenged a similar Kentucky law that combined the ban on transitional care with other controversial policies are expected to file a similar petition with the Supreme Court soon. the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky said Wednesday.

Adam Liptak contributed with reports.

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