Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Tennessee Law Banning Transition Care for Minors

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The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether a Tennessee law that bans certain medical treatments for transgender minors violates the Constitution.

The move means the court will for the first time hear arguments on the issue of medical care for transgender youth.

The Biden administration had asked the justices to take up the case, United States v. Skrmetti, arguing that the measure outlaws treatment for gender dysphoria in youths and “frames that prohibition in explicitly sex-based terms.”

In the government’s petition to the court, Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar wrote that the law bans transgender medical care but that it “leaves the same treatments entirely unrestricted if they are prescribed for any other purpose.”

Federal courts have splintered over laws aimed at blocking transition care, intensifying pressure on the Supreme Court to intervene. The justices have considered whether to take up the appeals at their private conference each week, but they had repeatedly postponed making a decision.

The move comes as states around the country have pushed to curtail transgender rights. Conservative lawmakers have prioritized legislation in recent years that targets gender-transition care and at least 20 Republican-led states have enacted measures restricting access to such medical care for minors.

It is also part of a broader effort at legislation aimed at regulating other parts of life, including laws about which bathrooms students and others can use and which sports teams they can play on.

This spring, the justices temporarily allowed Idaho to enforce a state ban that limited medical treatment for transgender youth. The law, passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, makes it a felony for doctors to provide transgender medical care for minors, including hormone treatment.

The decision in that case, which came to the justices as an emergency application, appeared to split largely along ideological lines, with the court’s liberals dissenting.

Along with Idaho, the justices had been asked to weigh in on legislation in Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Tennessee measure bans health care providers from offering transition care to minors, including puberty blockers and hormone treatments.

The Kentucky law, known as S.B. 150, bans doctors from providing gender-transition surgery or administering puberty blockers or hormone therapy to people under 18.

In June 2023, federal judges in both states, in separate rulings, temporarily blocked the laws days before key parts of the laws were set to go into effect.

Shortly after, a divided panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned the lower court decision, reinstating the bans. Plaintiffs in Kentucky and Tennessee appealed to the Supreme Court.



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