Department of Justice Sues Tennessee over Ban on ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ for Children

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 26: Two trans people hold hands while marching under a trans pride flag in the New York City Pride Parade on June 26, 2022 in New York City. Planned Parenthood was the first contingent of the parade this year following the Supreme Court overturning …
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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is suing Tennessee over the state’s prohibition on “gender-affirming care” for transgender children.

In March, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed legislation that would ban sex change operations, cross-sex hormone therapy, and puberty blockers for minors who are attempting to transition.

That law, set to go into effect on July 1, would authorize the attorney general to investigate healthcare providers who violate the ban and issue fines of up to $25,000.

However, President Joe Biden’s DOJ this week joined a lawsuit against the state filed by the parents of transgender children who are undergoing such care.

DOJ attorneys argue Tennessee’s law violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because the law prohibits these medical procedures specifically for children trying to transition.

According to the complaint:

The statute specifically excludes gender dysphoria and related conditions from the definition of disease. The legislative history of the statute also makes clear that the statute does not prohibit non-transgender minors from accessing the same procedures and treatments for any other reason.

The law thus discriminates against transgender minors by unjustifiably denying them access to certain forms of medically necessary care to treat a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

“No person should be denied access to necessary medical care just because of their transgender status,” DOJ Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. “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.”

However, Lee called the DOJ’s lawsuit “federal overreach at its worst.”

“Tennessee is committed to protecting children from permanent, life-altering decisions,” 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.”

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said he looks forward to the “opportunity” to defend Tennessee’s law in court.

“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,” Skrmetti said in a statement. “I welcome the opportunity to litigate these issues and vigorously defend Tennessee’s law.”

Tennessee officials were ordered to respond to the lawsuit by May 8.

The case is United States v. Skrmetti, No. 3:23-cv-00376 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter.


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