Challenge To Tennessee’s Ban On Transgender Care To Go Before SCOTUS

( — In 2023, the state of Tennessee banned medical professionals from providing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone therapy, and sex change surgeries to minors unless they obtained a court order. On Monday June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court announced they will be considering the constitutionality of those restrictions. Controversial left-wing legal activism group the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as well as the LGBT+ legal group Lambda Legal were instrumental in getting the Supreme Court to take on the case.

While many have criticized the ban as preventing lifesaving care for trans-identifying youth, the treatment of minors with gender-related mental health issues are increasingly contested around the world. Countries that were pioneers of medical sex change treatments for children have since reversed course on protocols that are still in use in the United States. Recent data suggests that not only are these early interventions not helpful to the mental health of children, but long-term outcomes can be worse than doing nothing at all.

However, the ACLU has been at the forefront of legal challenges against states that have restricted access to the disputed medical practices. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Tennessee can uphold the ban. The ACLU, along with the Biden administration as well as many Democrats, responded by urging the Supreme Court to take up the issue. Civil rights advocates assert that the ban violates constitutional rights to equal protection to what Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, attorney for the ACLU of Tennessee, calls “vital, life-saving healthcare”. Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, on the other hand, refers to gender-affirming care as irreversible treatments that children need to be protected from.

More than 20 states have banned or severely restricted access to gender transition medications or surgeries for minors. Legal challenges to the restrictions have sprung up in reaction to the bans, often bolstered by support of the ACLU and Lambda Legal. Legal challenges go both ways, though, as individuals who feel they have been injured by such treatments have filed lawsuits against their healthcare providers in California, Nebraska, and North Carolina. The Supreme Court justices are expected to hear the case in the fall and reach a decision by June or July of 2025.

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