The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging Tennessee’s recently passed law that bans gender-affirming care for minors, emphasizing it “denies necessary medical care to youth based solely on who they are.”
The DOJ argues that the bill, known as SB 1, violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, discriminating against individuals on the basis of sex and transgender status, according to the complaint.
“By denying only transgender youth access to these forms of medically necessary care while allowing non-transgender minors access to the same or similar procedures, SB 1 discriminates against transgender youth,” a DOJ press release said.
The Justice Department has asked the court to issue an immediate order to block the Tennessee law from taking effect on July 1.
“No person should be denied access to necessary medical care just because of their transgender status,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “The right to consider your health and medically-approved treatment options with your family and doctors is a right that everyone should have, including transgender children, who are especially vulnerable to serious risks of depression, anxiety and suicide. The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department will continue to aggressively challenge all forms of discrimination and unlawful barriers faced by the LGBTQI+ community.”
SB 1 — which was signed into law last month by Republican Gov. Bill Lee — prohibits health care providers from prescribing medications, like puberty blockers and hormone treatments for minors who identify as transgender or nonbinary, or performing surgeries and medical procedures “if the performance or administration of the procedure is for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”
Health care providers who violate the ban could be sued by the state attorney general or private parties, according to the new law.
Lee has already vowed to fight the lawsuit, calling it “federal overreach at its worst.”
In a statement, US Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Henry Leventis said SB 1 violates the constitutional rights of the state’s “most vulnerable victims.”
“Left unchallenged, it would prohibit transgender children from receiving health care that their medical providers and their parents have determined to be medically necessary. In doing so, the law seeks to substitute the judgment of trained medical professionals and parents with that of elected officials and codifies discrimination against children who already face far too many obstacles,” Leventis added.
Last week, three transgender children and their families also sued Tennessee, claiming “the law violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause because it allows the banned medical treatments when they are used to treat conditions other than gender dysphoria.”
Read the DOJ complaint here: