Federal Appeals Court rejects request to block Tennessee ban on gender-affirming care

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Person holding a sign that says LGB With The T
Campaign for Southern Equality photo Unsplash by Karollyne Hubert

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request from families and medical providers attempting to block a Tennessee law that bans gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. The decision on Thursday, Sept. 28, followed an earlier ruling by the Appeals Court rejecting a stay request to block enforcement of the law which took effect in July 2023. 

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP issued the following joint statement in response to the ruling: 

“This is a devastating result for transgender youth and their families in Tennessee and across the region. The disastrous impact of Tennessee’s law and all others like it has already been felt in thousands of homes and communities. Denying transgender youth equality before the law and needlessly withholding the necessary medical care their families and their doctors know is right for them has caused and will continue to cause serious harm. We are assessing our next steps and will take further action in defense of our clients and the constitutional rights of transgender people in Tennessee and across the country.”

Earlier this year, in April, the four groups filed a lawsuit to oppose the law on behalf of Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old daughter, L.W., as well as two other anonymous families and Dr. Susan N. Lacy. The law prohibits medical providers from treating transgender youth with evidence-based gender-affirming medical treatment and requires youth currently receiving gender-affirming care to end that care by March 31, 2024.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti called the upholding of the gender-affirming care ban a “big win” for democracy. 

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

District courts have unanimously blocked such bans in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. In August of this year, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Alabama’s ban to take effect while a legal challenge against it proceeds.

In June of 2023, a federal court in Arkansas struck down that state’s ban on gender-affirming care in the first ruling on the merits of such a law, finding it violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Chelsey Johnstone
Out In Jersey News Editor Chelsey Johnstone is an award-winning multimedia journalist and editor with a passion for honest reporting. A recent graduate of Montclair State University, Chelsey has spent over 5 years writing for publications such as The College VOICE, TrentonDaily, Unclear Magazine, Montclair Local News and more. Now, Chelsey is working to advance her journalist skills at Out in Jersey Magazine with the hope of positively impacting the world of reporting.