TN lawmakers voice concerns on judge’s ruling to block parts of transgender youth care ban

Two lawmakers vow to appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
Sen. Jack Johnson and Rep. William Lamberth say the state will appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 12:24 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Lawmakers are speaking out after federal judges in Tennessee and Kentucky temporarily blocked portions of bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth Wednesday.

In both Tennessee and Kentucky, the judges blocked portions of the law that would have banned transgender youth from accessing puberty blockers and hormone therapy. In the Tennessee case, the judge stopped short of also blocking the ban on gender-affirming surgeries for youth.

“I am extremely disappointed with this ruling on Senate Bill 1. I have complete faith that the legislation we passed is constitutional,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, the co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “I appreciate Attorney General (Jonathan) Skrmetti’s commitment to vigorously appeal this decision – all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. This is a critical part of our efforts to protect Tennessee children, and we are going to continue to fight to protect these kids from permanent, irreversible mutilation of their bodies.”

“It is a sad day in Tennessee when, in place of protecting innocent children, our courts normalize a dangerous ideology that promotes the abuse and chemical castration of healthy young people,” House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, the co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “I am grateful for the wisdom of the General Assembly in recognizing and passing legislation that, despite today’s disappointing ruling, will protect children from gender-mutilating surgeries beginning July 1. Tennessee Republicans will vigorously fight this decision to the highest court in the nation.”

In Tennessee, U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson, a Trump administration appointee, stressed that his ruling lined up with federal decisions blocking similar bans across the country but added that courts must “tread carefully” when preventing a law from being enforced.

“If Tennessee wishes to regulate access to certain medical procedures, it must do so in a manner that does not infringe on the rights conferred by the United States Constitution, which is of course supreme to all other laws of the land,” Richardson wrote.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted a request for a preliminary injunction against the law in a lawsuit brought by Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old daughter, as well as two other anonymous families and Dr. Susan N. Lacy. The law would prohibit medical providers from providing gender-affirming health care to transgender youth and would require trans youth currently receiving gender-affirming care to end that care within nine months of the law’s effective date of July 1, 2023, or by March 31, 2024.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, Lambda Legal and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

“Today’s ruling acknowledges the dangerous implications of this law and protects the freedom to access vital, life-saving healthcare for trans youth and their families while our challenge proceeds,” Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, ACLU of Tennessee staff attorney, said in a statement. “This law is an intrusion upon the rights and lives of Tennessee families and threatens the futures of trans youth across the state. We are determined to continue fighting this unconstitutional law until it is struck down for good. And to trans youth and their families: we see you, and we will not stop until all trans Tennesseans have the care and support they need to thrive.”