There will be more of these to come, including and especially in Texas.
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.
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.”
There’s a copy of the DOJ complaint embedded in the story. More than a dozen states have passed laws like this already, and Texas will do the same, or possibly something worse, in the near future. A likely scenario for when a lawsuit is filed against Texas’ future law is that a federal district court judge issues a temporary restraining order against it pending a ruling on the merits, and the Fifth Circuit lifts that to allow the law to be enforced. On the also-likely assumption that a different federal appeals court upholds a ruling against another state’s law, this will be on the SCOTUS docket in, I don’t know, a year or so. And then we’ll find out, as I said before, whether there’s still such a thing as civil rights in this country any more. I’ll keep an eye on it as we go.