Federal Judge Blocks Tennessee’s Ban on Trans Youth’s Health Care

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
June 28, 2023 7:03 pm

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A federal judge has blocked enforcement of a Tennessee law banning best practice medical care for trans youth up to age 18 while several families’ legal challenge against the law proceeds in court.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted a request for a preliminary injunction against the law, Public Chapter No. 1, in a lawsuit brought by Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old daughter, as well as two other anonymous families and Dr. Susan N. Lacy. The law would prohibit medical providers from providing gender-affirming health care to transgender youth and would require trans youth currently receiving gender-affirming care to end that care within nine months of the law’s effective date of July 1, 2023, or by March 31, 2024.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, Lambda Legal, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

“This is a critical victory for transgender youth, their families, and their medical providers across the state,” said Joshua Block, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “Across the country, we’re seeing a clear and unanimous rejection of these laws as unconstitutional, openly discriminatory, and a danger to the very youth they claim to protect.”

“Today’s ruling acknowledges the dangerous implications of this law and protects the freedom to access vital, life-saving healthcare for trans youth and their families while our challenge proceeds,” said Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, ACLU of Tennessee staff attorney. “This law is an intrusion upon the rights and lives of Tennessee families and threatens the futures of trans youth across the state. We are determined to continue fighting this unconstitutional law until it is struck down for good. And to trans youth and their families: we see you, and we will not stop until all trans Tennesseans have the care and support they need to thrive.”

“Today’s ruling tells transgender youth in Tennessee that they are seen, their lives matter, and that they have the right to access this life-saving care,” said Sruti Swaminathan, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney for Youth. “We are so grateful for our brave Plaintiff families and provider for standing up against this harmful law.”

Tennessee’s is the fourth ban on gender-affirming care blocked by a federal court following similar rulings in Arkansas, Alabama, and Florida, and Kentucky. The ACLU and the ACLU of Oklahoma secured a binding non-enforcement agreement with the Attorney General of Oklahoma preventing enforcement of that state’s ban in May 2023. On June 16, 2023, the ACLU and the ACLU of Indiana were granted a preliminary injunction in a legal challenge against Indiana’s ban on gender-affirming care.

In June 2023, a federal judge in Arkansas struck down that state’s ban in a permanent injunction, the first court ruling on the merits regarding a ban on gender-affirming care.

Today’s preliminary injunction can be found here.

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