A panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction that stopped a state law forbidding the use of puberty blockers, opposite-sex hormones and surgeries for minors with sexual identity confusion.

It’s an important decision, as similar bans in other states, protecting minors from these dangerous, experimental procedures, have been blocked by courts.

The ACLU, Lambda Legal and others who want children to receive these damaging treatments released a statement saying:

This ruling is beyond disappointing and a heartbreaking development for thousands of transgender youth, their doctors, and their families. As we and our clients consider our next steps, we want all the transgender youth of Tennessee to know this fight is far from over and we will continue to challenge this law until it is permanently defeated and Tennessee is made a safer place to raise every family.

On March 2, 2023, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Public Chapter No. 1 into law, prohibiting healthcare providers from using medical procedures to:

  1. Enable the minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex; or
  2. Treat purported discomfort or distress from a discordance between the minor’s sex and asserted identity.

The legislature said the ban was necessary because of the “risks and harms” of these procedures to minors, adding:

The legislature finds that minors lack the maturity to fully understand and appreciate the life-altering consequences of such procedures and that many individuals have expressed regret for medical procedures that were performed on or administered to them for such purposes when they were minors.

The Act said the state “has a legitimate, substantial, and compelling interest in encouraging minors to appreciate their sex, particularly as they undergo puberty” and “in protecting the ability of minors to develop into adults who can create children of their own.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and the LGBT activist organization Lambda Legal, along with the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, filed the lawsuit against the Tennessee law on April 20, 2023, calling it “dangerous” and “discriminatory.”

The suit was “on behalf of Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old transgender daughter, two other plaintiff families filing anonymously, and Memphis-based medical doctor Dr. Susan Lacy.”

On June 28, a federal judge ruled in favor of that lawsuit and blocked the Tennessee law, just days before it would have gone into effect. Similar rulings have been made by courts against laws protecting children in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana and Kentucky, so this decision is an important win.

David Fowler, president of Family Action Council of Tennessee, a Focus on the Family-allied group, said this stay from the Sixth Circuit was “excellent news,” adding that this was “the first win on this kind of law.”

Fowler has filed an amicus brief in the ongoing case. He made the important point that parents have no “right” to authorize doctors to injure their children with transgender drugs, hormones and surgeries, saying that “the state has a duty to protect all persons from such by third parties.”

In the decision striking down the lower court ruling, Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote, “Tennessee is likely to succeed on its appeal of the preliminary injunction.” He added, “The challengers also are unlikely to prevail on their due process and equal protection claims.”

Judge Sutton stated that the State had the right to protect minors from these damaging medical interventions:

The State plainly has authority, in truth a responsibility, to look after the health and safety of its children. In this area of unfolding medical and policy debate, a State has more rather than fewer options. Tennessee could rationally take the side of caution before permitting irreversible medical treatments of its children.

He concluded, “Tennessee’s interests in applying the law to its residents and in being permitted to protect its children from health risks weigh heavily in favor of the State at this juncture.

The case is L.W. v. Skrmetti 

Related articles and resources:

Department of Justice Sues Tennessee Over Law Protecting Minors From Sex-Change Procedures 

Federal Judge Strikes Down Arkansas Law Protecting Children From Destructive ‘Transgender’ Medical Interventions

Focus on the Family: Transgender Resources

Tennessee Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Ban ‘Trans’ Procedures on Minors

Tennessee and Mississippi Pass Bills to Protect Children from Harmful ‘Sex Change’ Procedures

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