Quick Takes

ACLU asks federal judge to block Kentucky’s ban on transgender medical care for minors

By: - May 23, 2023 1:18 pm

Sign at Kentucky Capitol on March 29 during a protest of anti-transgender legislation now being challenged in federal court. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and other plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to block part of a law they have said is the worst anti-trans bill in the United States. 

The ACLU of Kentucky filed for a preliminary injunction Monday to block a section of Senate Bill 150, due to be implemented in late June and banning gender-affirming medical care for minors, until its legal challenge is decided. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month.

SB 150, which the GOP-dominated legislature passed over the veto of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, also enacts restrictions on which bathrooms minors can use, limits the scope of sex education students receive and allows school staff to misgender trans minors. No challenges have been filed to those provisions. 

Corey Shapiro, the legal director for ACLU of Kentucky, in a statement said the families the organization represents in the lawsuit “should be able to begin or continue essential medical care.” 

“Banning medically necessary care for trans youth is not supported by science or reputable major medical organizations,” Shapiro said. “These are merely political attacks from groups with a fundamental opposition to transgender people being able to live openly, freely, and affirmed as who they really are.” 

The legal organization’s motion states that without an injunction, the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors will cause “irreparable physical and mental harm” to transgender youth and their parents.

“(A) transgender minor who has been receiving and benefitting from these medications and who is then required to stop taking them (either immediately or over time) ‘will suffer and their mental health will deteriorate,’” the motion states, citing testimony from a pediatric endocrinologist in Louisville.

Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion last week to intervene in the case to defend SB 150. A spokesperson for Cameron’s office did not directly answer a question on whether Cameron plans to oppose the motion for a temporary injunction. 

“The United States Constitution does not guaranty a right to receive a particular treatment for gender dysphoria in children, nor does it prevent the Commonwealth from regulating medical practices it has determined are harmful,” Cameron’s motion to intervene stated. “Section 4 of Senate Bill 150 furthers the General Assembly’s substantial and compelling interest in protecting children.”

Twenty-two organizations representing health care professionals, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academic Pediatric Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, also filed a motion Monday seeking permission to file a brief in support of the ACLU of Kentucky’s motion for an injunction. 

“As a group of well-respected medical and mental health organizations, amici seek to offer this Court their scientific views and insights regarding the serious medical condition known as gender dysphoria; the accepted standard of care — known as gender-affirming care — for treating individuals suffering from gender dysphoria; and the consequences of prohibiting healthcare providers from providing adolescents with critical, medically necessary, evidence-based treatments for gender dysphoria as would be required by S.B. 150,” the groups’ motion states.

This story has been updated to clarify the type of injunctive relief sought by the ACLU.

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Liam Niemeyer
Liam Niemeyer

Liam covers government and policy in Kentucky and its impacts throughout the Commonwealth for the Kentucky Lantern. He most recently spent four years reporting award-winning stories for WKMS Public Radio in Murray.