Jul 8, 2023 - News

Tennessee's gender-affirming care ban can go into effect, appeals court says

Illustration of a gavel with a trans flag on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A federal appeals court on Saturday lifted an order that blocked part of Tennessee’s gender-affirming care ban.

  • That means the law, which had been on hold, goes into effect immediately.

Why it matters: Under the law, transgender minors in Tennessee can no longer get prescriptions for hormones or puberty blockers.

  • Youth who received prescriptions before the law went into effect must stop the treatment by March 2024.

Catch up quick: On June 28, a federal district court judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the portion of the law that applied to hormones and puberty blockers while a court challenge was pending, saying that portion was likely unconstitutional.

  • The Tennessee attorney general's office asked a federal appeals court to reconsider the injunction.
  • A panel of judges from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to allow the law to go into effect while they considered arguments over the injunction.
  • Litigation challenging the law will continue.

Zoom in: Two members of the three-judge panel disagreed with the district court's conclusion that the law was likely unconstitutional.

State of play: Multiple federal courts have blocked similar gender-affirming care bans in other states. In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union said this was the first federal court to allow such a ban to go into effect.

What they’re saying: Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti cheered the decision.

  • "The case is far from over, but this is a big win," he said in a statement.

The ACLU, which is challenging the law, said the ruling was "a heartbreaking development for thousands of transgender youth, their doctors, and their families."

  • "We want all the transgender youth of Tennessee to know this fight is far from over and we will continue to challenge this law until it is permanently defeated."

Flashback: Tennessee Republicans acted quickly to pass the ban earlier this year, saying it was necessary to protect children.

  • Major medical associations including the American Academy of Pediatrics support gender-affirming care as medically necessary.

What's next: The appeals court ruling was a first step. The judges will continue to consider if the law should remain in effect and will hear arguments from both sides over the preliminary injunction. The judges wrote that they plan to resolve that question by Sept. 30.

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