The Look in Brief

Families of Tennessee transgender children petition U.S. Supreme Court to overturn ruling on care

By: - November 1, 2023 5:40 pm
A woman holds a sign during a legislative debate over gender-affirming care for minors in Feb. 2023. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A woman holds a sign during a legislative debate over gender-affirming care for minors in Feb. 2023. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A trio of Tennessee parents, their transgender children and a Memphis doctor have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court decision that has allowed a new state law banning gender affirming care for minors to take effect.

Tennessee lawmakers earlier this year enacted a law that bars transgender youth from receiving — and their doctors from prescribing — puberty blockers, hormone therapy and rare surgical procedures used to treat gender dysphoria.

A federal judge put the law temporarily on hold, but in September that decision was overturned in a divided opinion from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, marking the first time a federal appeals court allowed a ban on gender-affirming care to take effect after it was blocked by lower courts.

In Arkansas, a similar ban has been temporarily blocked in a decision upheld by a federal appellate court, while federal appeals courts reviewing bans in Kentucky and Alabama have overruled lower court decisions that blocked the laws.

“The legal uncertainty surrounding this medical care is creating chaos across the country for adolescents, families, and doctors,” the legal petition filed by the Tennessee plaintiffs said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, Lambda Legal, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld are representing the Tennessee doctor and families.

The petition asks the Supreme Court to consider two constitutional questions: the first is whether Tennessee’s ban on gender affirming care for minors violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause; the second is whether the law violates a parent’s fundamental right to make medical care decisions for their children as guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

Full text of Supreme Court Writ of Certiori is available here.

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.