Families and Advocates Urge Appeals Court to Block Tennessee’s Ban on Gender-Affirming Health Care

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
August 29, 2023 10:16 am

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CINCINNATI – Lawyers representing transgender adolescents, their parents, and a medical provider will urge the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court’s injunction of a Tennessee law banning gender-affirming care for trans youth at a hearing this Friday, Sept. 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The hearing can be live-streamed online here.

“Across the country, we have already seen the disastrous and dangerous outcomes of laws like Tennessee’s,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “Transgender youth and their families are having their well-being threatened, their lives uprooted, and their rights under the Constitution trampled by bans that, as all evidence shows, endanger the young people they claim to protect. As the clear majority of courts have found, these laws unjustifiably discriminate against transgender young people, intrude upon the fundamental rights of their parents, and ultimately prevent adolescents, parents, and doctors from making critical health decisions for transgender adolescents.”

“Tennessee trans youth deserve to live their lives to the fullest — which includes access to high-quality medical care,” said Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, staff attorney at ACLU of Tennessee. “Our clients are actual young people and their families, and they should have the freedom to be their authentic selves and pursue their dreams. Yet, they suffer the consequences of targeted attacks from certain politicians who push laws that restrict Tennesseans’ freedoms based on race, socioeconomics, or simply because they’re transgender. We are committed to defending the rights of trans youth and their families at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and we will not stop until they have the care and support they need to thrive.”

“The relentless, arbitrary, and cruel attacks on transgender youth, their families, and their caregivers have real and tragic implications for their mental and physical health,” said Sruti Swaminathan, staff attorney for youth, Lambda Legal. “It is unconscionable that state legislators, governors, and health officials have seen fit to interfere in healthcare decisions properly left to parents, children, and their doctors. Courts across the country have recognized these improper intrusions for what they are – dangerous, discriminatory, and unconstitutional. We look forward to making that argument before the Sixth Circuit.”

In April 2023, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP filed a lawsuit to oppose the law on behalf of Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old daughter, L.W., as well as two other anonymous families and Dr. Susan N. Lacy. The law prohibits medical providers from treating transgender youth with evidence-based gender-affirming medical treatment and requires youth currently receiving gender-affirming care to end that care by March 31, 2024.

District courts have consistently blocked such bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In August 2023, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Alabama’s ban to take effect while a legal challenge against it proceeds.

In June 2023, a federal court in Arkansas struck down that state’s ban on gender-affirming care in the first ruling on the merits of such a law, finding it violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Click here for more on L.W. v. Skrmetti.

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