A federal appeals court has upheld laws in two states protecting children and adolescents from harmful and damaging transgender medical interventions.

On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a 41-page-opinion upholding the rights of Kentucky and Tennessee to protect children from transgender procedures.

Tennessee enacted the Prohibition on Medical Procedures Performed on Minors Related to Sexual Identity Act on March 2, 2023.  The Act restricted physicians from providing puberty blockers, opposite-sex hormones, and surgeries to those under 18.

The Kentucky General Assembly approved An Act Related to Children on March 29, 2023, which prohibited physicians from providing care “for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of, or to validate a minor’s perception of, the minor’s sex, if that appearance or perception is inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”

Shortly after the bills were passed, multiple “transgender” minors sued both states, alleging that the acts violated their federal constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. A federal district judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing the laws from taking effect.

Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, authored the Sixth Circuit’s opinion. He was joined by Judge Amul Thapar, an appointee of former President Donald J. Trump. Judge Helene White, also a Bush-appointee, dissented from the ruling.

In stating why Tennessee and Kentucky’s laws do not violate the “rights” of transgender individuals (the plaintiffs), Judge Sutton explains that transgender individuals are “not an immutable group” and are not “a politically powerless group,” among other reasons.

He writes:

The President of the United States and the Department of Justice support the plaintiffs. A national anti-discrimination law, Title VII, protects transgender individuals in the employment setting. Fourteen States have passed laws specifically allowing some of the treatments sought here. Twenty States have joined an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.

The major medical organizations support the plaintiffs. And the only large law firms to make an appearance in the case all entered the controversy in support of the plaintiffs.

These are not the hallmarks of a skewed or unfair political process.

Judge Sutton opined the court must defer to the wisdom of the state legislatures in the case, adding:

This is a relatively new diagnosis with ever-shifting approaches to care over the last decade or two. …

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.

After the ruling, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti called the decision a “big win for democracy.”

He added:

Decisions that are not clearly resolved by the Constitution should be resolved by the people through their elected representatives. I am so proud of our team who stood strong against the overwhelming resources arrayed against Tennessee in this case.

Every child deserves protection from experimental transgender medical interventions. Each child deserves the opportunity to experience a full human life, get married and have children – something puberty blockers, opposite-sex hormones and surgeries deprive them of.

We should all be grateful that Judges Sutton and Thapar have upheld Tennessee and Kentucky’s constitutional authority to protect children. And we should pray that all states will follow suit.

Focus on the Family exists to help families, and that includes help navigating the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism. Focus offers a free, one-time counseling consultation with a licensed or pastoral counselor. To request a consultation, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) or fill out our Counseling Consultation Request Form.

Related articles and resources:

Counseling Consultation & Referrals

Transgender Resources

Addressing Gender Identity with Honesty and Compassion

The Journey Back to My True Identity

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