Tennessee’s democratically elected governor and legislators successfully executed the will of the people last month, passing a law banning health care providers from mutilating children’s genitals and administering irreversible puberty blockers. The law will go into effect on July 1, unless, of course, Biden’s Justice Department gets its way.
The DOJ filed a lawsuit Wednesday to block Senate Bill 1, claiming the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating against “transgender youth.”
The lawsuit filed this week against Tennessee alleges as fact that “every person has a gender identity.”
Echoing the American Medical Association, the lawsuit further suggests that genital mutilation and puberty blockers are “medically appropriate and necessary.”
“No person should be denied access to needed medical care solely because of their transgender status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
Clarke added: “The right to discuss your health and medically approved treatment options with your family and doctors is a right that everyone should have, including transgender children, who are particularly vulnerable to serious risks of depression , anxiety and suicide”.
U.S. Attorney Henry Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee agreed, stating, “It has been left unchallenged, [SB 1] would prohibit transgender children from receiving medical care that their medical providers and parents have determined is medically necessary. In doing so, the law seeks to replace the judgment of trained medical professionals and parents with that of elected officials and codifies discrimination against children who already face too many obstacles.”
State Republicans responded, indicating they would not be limited on the issue.
Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement Wednesday night, “This is federal overreach at its worst, and we will work with Attorney General Skrmetti to push back in court and defend children.”
“Tennessee is committed to protecting children from permanent, life-altering decisions,” Lee added.
State Attorney General Jonathan Skremtti (R) responded to the lawsuit, saying, “The federal government has joined the ACLU and an elite New York law firm to attack a bipartisan law that protects children from irreversible harm. I welcome the opportunity to litigate these issues. and vigorously defend Tennessee’s law.”
Republican state Rep. Jason Zachary pointed to an apparent inconsistency by the DOJ, listing several things that minors cannot do in the state of Tennessee, in addition to having their genitals removed by surgeons, such as getting a tattoo, voting , work full time, donate blood and buy a car.
u201cFor the DOJ, the following is a list of many things you cannot do in Tennessee until you are 18:nnLife-altering gender-mutilation surgery (which the DOJ is suing to overturn)nJoin- tea in the armynVotenGet a tattoonServe alcohol/work in a barnWork full timenBuy a lottery ticketnSign oneu2026u201d
— Rep. Jason Zachary (@Rep. Jason Zachary) 1682562880
The DOJ appears emboldened after its success last year in challenging Alabama Senate Bill 184, a law that imposed a criminal ban on child genital mutilation.
Judge Liles C. Burke of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granted the DOJ a preliminary injunction blocking parts of the law in May 2022, the Daily News reported.
Burke specifically took aim at the parts of the law that prohibited doctors from prescribing puberty blockers.
According to the Alabama Political Reporter, as of January 2023, the state has had to spend more than $1 million on legal counsel to defend the law and by extension the state’s children.
The law is not currently being enforced.
Assistant Attorney General Clarke made it clear in a March 31, 2022 letter to state attorneys general that the DOJ and the Biden administration “have a strong interest in protecting the constitutional rights of people who are lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex”. , non-binary or otherwise gender non-conforming, and to ensure compliance with federal civil rights statutes.”
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