The US Department of Justice has sued the state of Tennessee to block a recently enacted law that prohibits gender affirming care for transgender youth.
A lawsuit filed in US District Court on April 26 argues that the law, set to take effect on July 1, violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
“No one should be denied access to essential medical care because of their transgender status,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s civil rights division said in a statement.
The law is also being challenged by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, which filed a lawsuit against the state last week.
“It was extremely painful to watch my child struggle before we were able to get her the life-saving health care she needed,” plaintiff Samantha Williams said in a statement. “I am so afraid of what this law will mean for her. We don’t want to leave Tennessee, but this legislation has forced us to routinely leave our state to get our daughter the medical care she desperately needs or uproot our entire lives and leave Tennessee altogether. No family should have to make this kind of choice.”
The law prohibits medical providers from following widely accepted clinical guidelines to provide medically necessary and potentially life-saving treatment to minors for the purpose of confirming gender other than the gender assigned at birth .
Republican Governor Bill Lee signed the ban into law last month along with a separate measure targeting public drag performances, which was blocked by a federal judge pending a challenge from an LGBT+ theater group.
“Instead of addressing any real issue that matters to Tennesseans, the legislature and Governor Lee have decided to attack vulnerable young people at the mercy of politicians who think they know better than families, doctors, and the greater medical community,” Kelley Robinson, president. of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement following a challenge by the Department of Justice.
“Gender affirmative care is lifesaving care. Period,” she said. “We understand that the Biden Administration is saying ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to efforts by Governor Lee and other Tennessee lawmakers to legislate transgender children out of existence.”
In the east, 12 states have enacted laws or policies banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and more than a dozen other states are considering similar measures.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than half of all trans youth in the United States between the ages of 13 and 17 are at risk of losing access to age-appropriate and medically necessary gender-affirming health care .
The killing of legislation and the volatile political debate surrounding the bills is also having a negative impact on the mental health of the vast majority of trans and non-binary young people, according to a recent poll by The Trevor Project and Morning Consult.
A separate survey by The Trevor Project found that 45 per cent of trans and non-binary young people had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
The results of a wide-ranging survey from The Washington Post and KFF found that the vast majority of trans Americans are happy with their lives after transitioning.