Advocates Promise Legal Action In Defense of Transgender Youth in Tennessee

February 13, 2023 2:15 pm

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Lambda Legal are promising the transgender youth of Tennessee they will bring immediate legal action against proposed restrictions on their health care currently being considered by the state legislature.

SB 1 and HB 1 would ban the only evidence-based care for gender dysphoria for transgender people under 18. State senate committees have thus far ignored the warnings of transgender youth, their families, and their medical providers about the potential harms of these bills, and similar restrictions in Alabama and Arkansas have been enjoined by federal courts.

“Trans youth in Tennessee deserve the support and care necessary to give them the same chance to thrive as their peers. Gender-affirming care is a critical part of helping transgender adolescents succeed in school, establish healthy relationships with their friends and family, live authentically as themselves, and dream about their futures,” said Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, ACLU-TN staff attorney. “Politicians are risking the lives of young people by forcing their way into family decision-making, a fundamental right which has traditionally been protected against government intrusion. Gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth is safe, effective, and necessary care. ACLU-TN stands ready to defend the freedom of families to make these decisions for their children. Should this dangerous legislation pass, we will see the state in court.”

“Because this law discriminates on the basis of protected characteristics and infringes on the fundamental rights of transgender youth and their families, it demands a level of legal scrutiny that Tennessee will not be able to meet,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “These bills are riddled with misinformation and the testimony in support of them repeats the same falsehoods that have already been rejected by other courts. Tennessee would be better served by listening to the experts — the youth who benefit from this care, the parents who love them, and the doctors who care for them. Should these bills be signed into law, we are prepared to defend the rights and dignity of transgender youth with every tool available.”

“Tennessee legislators seem hellbent on joining the growing roster of states determined to jeopardize the health and lives of transgender youth, in direct opposition to the overwhelming body of scientific and medical evidence supporting this care as appropriate and necessary,” Lambda Legal Staff Attorney for Youth Sruti Swaminathan said. “And, just as we have done in other states engaging in this anti-science and discriminatory fear-mongering, so too we will do in Tennessee and challenge this bill should it be signed into law.”

Bans like SB 1 and HB 1 are opposed by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the Williams Institute of UCLA, Tennessee is home to an estimated 3,100 transgender youth between the ages of 13-17.

Any person at risk of being affected by these restrictions on gender-affirming care should reach out to or

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