US justice department sues Tennessee over trans healthcare ban: ‘A right that everyone should have’

Governor Bill Lee speaking during a Twitter clip.

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit challenging Tennessee lawmakers on their ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

Biden administrators submitted court filings on Wednesday (26 April) arguing that legislation SB1 is unconstitutional due to its ban on gender-affirming care for under-18s.

The bill, signed by governor Bill Lee on 2 March, would prohibit doctors at risk of lawsuits from parents, guardians, or the state attorney general.

If passed, the bill’s ban would go into effect on 1 July 2023 and would deny all under-18s in the state the right to trans healthcare.

Following the lawsuit’s filing, Tennessee attorney Henry Leventis said the bill “violates the constitutional rights of some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens.”

“Left unchallenged, it would prohibit transgender children from receiving health care that their medical providers and their parents have determined to be medically necessary,” he said.

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Additionally, assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said medical autonomy is “a right that everyone should have.”

She added that this right extends to “transgender children, who are especially vulnerable to serious risks of depression, anxiety, and suicide.”

Like other countries, trans healthcare for under-18s in the US extends only to physically reversible puberty blockers.

Under-18s are not permitted, by law, to undergo gender-affirming surgeries such as facial feminisation surgery or gender-reassignment surgery.

Despite this, the bill’s supporters have still attempted to frame it as an effort to protect children.

Governor Bill Lee has taken aim at multiple rights of transgender people over the past year with bills banning participation in elite competitions, as well as bans on drag performances.

The Tennessee governor found himself in hot water, however, after pictures of him cross-dressing during a high-school party, were leaked in March.

The photo, believed to be taken in 1977, sees Lee wearing a wig and a cheerleader’s outfit with the title “Hard Knock Woman.”

He was accused of hypocrisy after the pictures were unearthed amid his campaign of support for Senate Bill 3, which bans public drag performances.

The bill, which has since been enacted, bans “adult cabaret performances” in locations that could be “viewed by a person who is not an adult.”

When confronted about the pictures while talking to the press, Lee said the comparison was “ridiculous.”

“Conflating something like that to sexualised entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious subject.”

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