The Biden administration is challenging Tennessee’s newly passed law banning gender-transition drugs and surgeries for children, accusing the state of illegal discrimination based on “transgender status.”
The Justice Department lawsuit, filed Wednesday, seeks to block Senate Bill 1 before it takes effect July 1, alleging that the measure “denies medical care to youth based solely on who they are,” violating the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
“SB 1 will cause immense and irreparable physical and psychological harm to many transgender minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria by terminating their access to necessary medical treatment and impose harm on their parents and medical providers,” said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville.
Sixteen states have passed bills barring those under 18 from accessing gender-transition procedures.
The Justice Department joined last year a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s law, known as Senate Bill 184, brought by several families of children receiving treatment and doctors.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said that he and Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti would fight to uphold the legislation, which the Republican governor signed into law March 2.
“Tennessee is committed to protecting children from permanent, life-altering decisions,” Mr. Lee said. “This is federal overreach at its worst, and we will work with Attorney General Skrmetti to push back in court and stand up for children.”
The bill prohibits a “healthcare provider from performing on a minor or administering to a minor a medical procedure if the performance or administration of the procedure is for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”
Mr. Skrmetti said that the “federal government has joined the ACLU and an elite New York law firm in attacking a bipartisan law that protects children from irreversible harm,” referring to the law firm Akin Gump.
The Justice Department said it would “continue to aggressively challenge all forms of discrimination and unlawful barriers faced by the LGBTQI+ community.”
“No person should be denied access to necessary medical care just because of their transgender status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who heads the civil rights division. “The right to consider your health and medically-approved treatment options with your family and doctors is a right that everyone should have, including transgender children, who are especially vulnerable to serious risks of depression, anxiety and suicide.”