LOUISVILLE, Ky - The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and National Center for Lesbian Rights, on behalf of Kentucky parents, will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Kentucky’s ban on medically necessary care for transgender youth. With the filing of our petition for a writ of certiorari and a similar filing in the Tennessee ban on essential healthcare for transgender youth, these cases become the first challenge to transgender healthcare restrictions before the Supreme Court.
The law, also known as Senate Bill 150, bans families from following the advice of medical professionals and practices approved by all major medical associations. The law also forces transgender youth who have been receiving care to stop following their prescribed treatment plan.
Major medical associations — including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Medical Association — oppose the law because it violates basic ethical and informed consent principles.
“This sort of extreme political interference in the doctor-patient relationship has no place in the exam room,” said Corey Shapiro, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky. “We are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Sixth Circuit’s decision so that our clients can continue receiving the necessary, effective health care recommended by their physicians and supported by their parents. It’s time to stop criminalizing health care, interfering with personal decisions, and substituting political agendas for the expertise of health care professionals.”
“The Sixth Circuit’s decision gives the government essentially unchecked power to prevent parents from making medical decisions for their children,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for NCLR. “This type of government overreach is dangerous and out of step with the limits our Constitution places on the ability of government officials to interfere with families and impose their own values on parents and young people.”
When it was issued in September, the ruling sparked a strong dissent from Sixth Circuit Judge Helen N. White, who recognized “[a] substantial body of evidence—including cross-sectional and longitudinal studies as well as decades of clinical experience … [shows] [g]ender-affirming care improves short- and long-term outcomes for adolescents with gender dysphoria by reducing rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidality, and brings their mental health into alignment with their peers.” As Judge White explained, the majority “decision opens the floodgates to states in this Circuit to manipulate doctor-patient discourse solely for ideological reasons.” She wrote, “laws further deprive the parents—those whom we otherwise recognize as best suited to further their minor children’s interests—of their right to make medical decisions affecting their children in conjunction with their children and medical practitioners.”
In June 2023, a federal court in Arkansas struck down that state’s ban on medical care for transgender minors after a two-week trial in the first ruling on the merits of such a law, finding it violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Plaintiffs in the case are seven transgender youth and their families, represented by the ACLU of Kentucky, NCLR, Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius LLP, and Jenner & Block LLP.
More about this case can be found here: Doe v Thornbury.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislature and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms. For additional information, visit our website at: www.aclu-ky.org.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Since its founding, NCLR has maintained a longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and the LGBTQ community’s most vulnerable. www.nclrights.org.