Appeals court reverses lower courts’ decisions, allows gender-affirming care ban to stand

District court had issued an injunction to block enforcement of the law legislators passed earlier this year.
A district court in Nashville had issued an injunction to block enforcement of the law legislators passed earlier this year.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 10:15 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s preliminary injunction that would have blocked enforcement of Tennessee’s law that protects children from irreversible gender-related medical intervention.

The ruling followed an earlier ruling by the Appeals Court rejecting a stay to block enforcement of the law which took effect on July 1, 2023.

“This is a big win for democracy,” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a statement after the ruling. “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.”

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP issued a joint statement on 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.”

The lawsuit was filed in April 2023 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.

A similar law was enacted in Kentucky. Senate Bill 150 protects kids from permanent, invasive harm caused by puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

“These gender interventions, billed as medical care, cause permanent harm to vulnerable children and their health,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in a statement. “Despite full-throated denials by Governor (Andy) Beshear and his far-left activists, our children would still be under attack with SB 150. Andy Beshear won’t protect our kids, but I will, and I am proud to carry the mantle for this important law.”

Kentucky’s General Assembly passed the bill during the 2023 Regular Session. Beshear vetoed the bill when it arrived at his desk, but the General Assembly overrode his veto. The ACLU and National Center for Lesbian Rights sued to halt enforcement of a section of Senate Bill 150 that would revoke the licenses of physicians who perform “gender-affirming” care on minors. A federal court in Louisville ruled in their favor.