This week, Kentucky took centerstage in the fight over gender-affirming care for minors as seven families filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s recently passed ban.
Kentucky’s S.B. 150, passed into law over the veto of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in March, is one of the most extreme among several laws enacted recently in Republican-dominated legislatures. It’s set to go into effect June 29.
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The seven families of transgender youth are represented by the ACLU of Kentucky and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who filed for a preliminary injunction to block the state from enforcing the ban earlier this week.
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On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice joined the challenge with an amicus brief supporting the call for an injunction.
In addition to banning gender-affirming care for trans youth, the bill denies use of bathrooms aligning with gender identity in schools, conflates and excludes LGBTQ+-related topics and information on sexually transmitted diseases from sex education, and prohibits school staff and students from properly addressing trans-identifying minors.
Those other provisions in the law have not been challenged.
In addition to the Justice Department, a group of 22 organizations representing healthcare professionals and medical groups are seeking permission to submit an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.
In a statement, the ACLU called the new law an egregious government overreach into the families’ personal decision-making.
Families “should be able to begin or continue essential medical care” for their children with government interference, said Corey Shapiro, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky.
“These are merely political attacks from groups with a fundamental opposition to transgender people being able to live openly, freely, and affirmed as who they really are,” Shapiro said. “Banning medically necessary care for trans youth is not supported by science or reputable major medical organizations.”
Without a court order, the motion states, the law’s ban on gender-affirming treatments will cause “irreparable physical and mental harm” to transgender youth and their parents.
“Minor Plaintiffs currently receive this medically necessary treatment, and their health and wellbeing will be irreparably damaged if the Commonwealth forces their treatment to stop,” the motion reads. “Further, Parent Plaintiffs, who already carefully determined that this care is necessary for their children, will be forced to watch their children suffer from an entirely preventable denial of care.”
The suit provided examples of specific harms experienced and anticipated by the seven families.
The parents of one trans boy “immediately noticed a positive change in his mental health” after he started hormone therapy. Now they worry the ban on HRT for minors will prompt “his symptoms of distress” to return.
Meanwhile, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion to intervene and defend the law.
“The United States Constitution does not guaranty a right to receive a particular treatment for gender dysphoria in children, nor does it prevent the Commonwealth from regulating medical practices it has determined are harmful,” the Republican stated in his motion. “Section 4 of Senate Bill 150 furthers the General Assembly’s substantial and compelling interest in protecting children.”