(The Center Square) – Tennessee and Kentucky laws banning sex transition medical treatments for minors will be allowed to become law after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled the laws were constitutional.
Previously, laws in each state had been blocked by temporary injunctions that went into effect just before the laws were set to begin July 1.
“Under these circumstances, it is difficult for anyone to be sure about predicting the long-term consequences of abandoning age limits of any sort for these treatments,” the court wrote. “That is precisely the kind of situation in which life-tenured judges construing a difficult-to-amend Constitution should be humble and careful about announcing new substantive due process or equal protection rights that limit accountable elected officials from sorting out these medical, social, and policy challenges.”
The Tennessee law, set to go into effect July 1, was blocked by a temporary injunction June 28 as the plaintiffs in a lawsuit were allowed to challenge the Tennessee ban on hormones and puberty blockers.
Tennessee’s law has two exceptions, the first being to permit the use of puberty blockers and hormones to treat congenital conditions, precocious puberty, disease or physical injury. The second is a continuing care exception until March 31, 2024, allowing health care providers to continue treatment, such as hormone therapy, that began before July 1 when the law was to go into effect.
“This is a big win for democracy,” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said. “Decisions that are not clearly resolved by the Constitution should be resolved by the people through their elected representatives.”
Kentucky’s General Assembly overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a similar law March 29 and that law was also blocked by a temporary injunction June 28.
The district court ruled the law infringed on parents’ rights to seek medical care for their children and that it discriminated based on sex.
The Court of Appeals ruling also said minors going through sex transition were not a protected class.
“One simply cannot define, or create, a protected class solely by the nature of a denied medical benefit: in this instance childhood treatment for gender dysphoria,” the court wrote. “Else every medical condition, procedure, and drug having any relation to biological sex could not be regulated without running the gauntlet of skeptical judicial review.”
Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP represented the plaintiffs in the case, Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old daughter along with two anonymous families and Dr. Susan N. Lacy.
“This is a devastating result for transgender youth and their families in Tennessee and across the region,” the lawyers said in a joint statement. “The disastrous impact of Tennessee’s law and all others like it has already been felt in thousands of homes and communities. Denying transgender youth equality before the law and needlessly withholding the necessary medical care their families and their doctors know is right for them has caused and will continue to cause serious harm.”