The Department of Justice filed a complaint challenging Tennessee’s recently enacted law that prohibits “critically and medically necessary” care for transgender youth. File photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | license photo
April 27 (UPI) — The Justice Department is stepping in to block a Tennessee law that bans “critical and medically necessary” care for transgender youth.
The Department filed a complaint on Wednesday, in the US District Court for the Nashville Division of the Middle District of Tennessee, to challenge Tennessee’s recently enacted law that “denies youth health care based solely on who they are.”
The complaint specifically challenges Tennessee Senate Bill 1, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Lee last month and prohibits certain care for transgender children, because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The department also asked the court on Wednesday to issue a immediate order to prevent the law from taking effect on July 1.
“Tennessee is committed to protecting children from permanent, life-altering decisions,” Lee said. in a sentence Wednesday. “This is federal overreach at its worst, and we will work with the Attorney General [Jonathan] Skrmetti to back down in court and defend the children.”
“No person should be denied access to necessary medical care solely because of their transgender status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
“The right to discuss your health and medically approved treatment options with your family and doctors is a right everyone should have, including transgender children, who are especially vulnerable to serious risks of depression, anxiety and suicide,” Clarke said. .
The Tennessee law would prohibit medical care, both surgical and pharmaceutical, such as puberty blockers that “treat a physical or chemical abnormality present in a minor that is incompatible with the normal development of a human being of the minor’s sex.”
The law expresses concerns about long-term outcomes and questions whether minors can make such consequential decisions.
Punishment for breaking the law could result in civil financial penalties for health care providers.
“Doctors, parents, or anyone else who provides or offers to provide the prohibited care faces the possibility of civil lawsuits for 30 years and other penalties,” the department said.
Gender-affirming care that began before July 1 would not be considered a rape, as long as an attending physician certifies that completion of the procedure would be detrimental to the minor.
“SB1 violates the constitutional rights of some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens,” said United States Attorney Henry Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee.
“If left unchallenged, it would prohibit transgender children from receiving medical care that their medical providers and parents have determined to be medically necessary,” Leventis said.
“In doing so, the law seeks to substitute the judgment of trained medical professionals and parents for that of elected officials and codifies discrimination against children who already face too many obstacles.”
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