Tennessee will be allowed to implement its ban on gender-affirming care for minors after an appeals court overturned a lower court’s order to stop the ban.
The state’s ban was set to go into effect on July 1, but a federal judge halted its implementation, siding with the American Civil Liberties Union, who said the law interferes with parental rights to choose necessary medical care for their children.
The law bans gender-affirming care, including hormone therapies, puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgery on minors.
Two of the three judges on the appeals panel ruled to reinstate the law, saying that decisions over transgender care are better left up to state legislatures rather than judges.
“Given the high stakes of these nascent policy deliberations — the long-term health of children facing gender dysphoria — sound government usually benefits from more rather than less debate,” Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote.
“Both sides have the same fear, just in opposite directions — one saying the procedures create health risks that cannot be undone, the other saying the absence of such procedures creates risks that cannot be undone. What makes it bearable to choose between the two sides is the realization that not every choice is for judges to make,” he added.
The challenge against the law will still go forward while the law goes into effect. If the court upholds the ACLU’s appeal, the law will again be shut down.
“This ruling is beyond disappointing and a heartbreaking development for thousands of transgender youth, their doctors, and their families,” the ACLU of Tennessee said in a statement.
“As we and our clients consider our next steps, 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 and Tennessee is made a safer place to raise every family.”
Gender-affirming care like hormone therapy and puberty blockers are generally considered safe and have been endorsed by major medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Endocrine Society.
Approximately 20 states have passed laws banning the medical care.
Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care was struck down last month by a federal judge on the merits, claiming the ban violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause
Bans in Alabama, Florida, Indiana and Kentucky have also been halted by the court. The Kentucky Attorney General appealed the court ruling stopping his state’s ban on Friday.