US Supreme Court to Review Ban on Transgender Care for Minors

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US Supreme Court to Review Ban on Transgender Care for Minors

WASHINGTON, June 24 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to review the legality of Tennessee’s Republican-backed ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. This decision marks another significant foray into issues surrounding LGBT rights.

Appeal by Biden Administration

The court will consider an appeal by President Joe Biden’s administration, which challenges a lower court’s ruling that upheld Tennessee’s ban. This ban restricts medical treatments, including hormones and surgeries, for minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The case is scheduled for the Supreme Court’s next term, beginning in October. Challengers argue that the ban violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses by discriminating against transgender adolescents.

Legislative Landscape

In recent years, Republican-led states have enacted similar bans on medications and surgical interventions for adolescents with gender dysphoria, a condition where there is significant distress due to a mismatch between one’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Proponents of these laws argue that the treatments are experimental and potentially harmful. Conversely, medical associations highlight that gender dysphoria is linked to higher suicide rates and assert that gender-affirming care is both life-saving and effective, as evidenced by long-term studies.

Related article : Federal Judge Blocks Florida’s Ban on Gender-Affirming Healthcare

Legal Challenge in Tennessee

Several plaintiffs, including transgender minors and their parents, have sued in Tennessee to defend the treatments that they claim have significantly improved their wellbeing. The U.S. Justice Department has joined this lawsuit to challenge the law. Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti supports the ban, stating that it protects children from irreversible treatments, and looks forward to defending the law in the Supreme Court.

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Specifics of the Law

The Tennessee law prohibits healthcare workers from administering puberty blockers and hormones for reasons “inconsistent with the minor’s sex,” but allows such treatments for congenital conditions or early puberty. Violations can result in lawsuits, fines, and professional discipline for healthcare providers.

Reactions and Implications

Lawyers for the plaintiffs expressed gratitude that the Supreme Court will hear the case, emphasizing the need to overturn discriminatory laws that negatively impact transgender youth. Tara Borelli of Lambda Legal remarked on the historical rejection of such discriminatory laws by the Supreme Court. Similarly, Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the ban as a politically motivated attack on a marginalized group.

Judicial History and Supreme Court’s Role

In 2023, a federal judge blocked the Tennessee law, suggesting it likely violated the 14th Amendment. However, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed this decision. The Biden administration has urged the Supreme Court to address the issue, arguing that state bans cause significant harm to transgender adolescents and their families by denying necessary medical treatments.

Broader Context

The Supreme Court has a history of cases impacting LGBT rights. Landmark rulings include the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 and the protection of gay and transgender employees under federal workplace discrimination laws in 2020. However, the Court has also made decisions favoring religious objections to providing services for same-sex weddings, highlighting the ongoing legal battles over LGBT rights in the U.S.

The Supreme Court’s decision on this matter will have profound implications for the legal landscape surrounding transgender rights and medical care for minors in the United States.

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