Courts LGBTQ

Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Case On Transgender Affirming Care For Minors

On Monday, June 24th, the Supreme Court inserted itself into the fight over transgender rights. The court agreed to hear a Biden administration appeal to a Tennessee law that bans gender-affirming care to transgender minors. The state law, enacted last year, restricts puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery for minors and imposes civil penalties for doctors who violate the law. The federal appeals court in Cincinnati allowed bans in Tennessee and Kentucky to take effect after they had been blocked by lower courts. The Supreme Court only agreed to act on the appeal to the Tennessee law, not the Kentucky law.

Plaintiffs, including transgender teens and their families, say the law violates the Constitution’s 14th Amendment by barring medical treatments for transgender people that are available to others. They argue that the amendment is clearly violated as the law is not applied equally to everyone. They also say it violates the right of parents to make healthcare decisions for their own children. However, the Supreme Court will not weigh in on that issue. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said, “without this Court’s prompt intervention, transgender youth and their families will remain in limbo, uncertain of whether and where they can access needed medical care.”

Gender-affirming care, which this law is attempting to ban, includes a range of medical and mental health services to support a person’s gender identity. It encompasses counseling and treatment with medications that block puberty and hormone therapy to produce physical changes like stopping periods and increasing or decreasing hair growth. It can also include surgery like operations to transform genitals and chests. These surgeries are rarely offered to minors. These services are offered to treat gender dysphoria which is the unease a person may have because their assigned gender and gender identity don’t match. This condition has been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts. These treatments have been available for over a decade and every major U.S. medical group, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, has opposed the bans. These medical groups said that gender-affirming treatments can be medically necessary and are supported by evidence.

This lawsuit comes as many red states have enacted a variety of restrictions on health care for transgender people, school sports participation, bathroom usage, and drag shows. Just last week, South Carolina became the 25th state to pass a law restricting gender-affirming medical care for minors. The Biden administration and blue states have expanded protections for transgender people. Now, the Supreme Court will weigh in. 

Most of the state restrictions face lawsuits. In April, the Supreme Court allowed Idaho to mostly enforce a similar law after it had been previously blocked by lower courts. This case probably won’t be the last time the court weighs in on transgender rights. Arguments for this case will take place in the fall with a decision issued by June 2025. We will have to wait until then to see how the Court rules on gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

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