Supreme Court to review Tennessee ban of puberty blockers, transgender surgery for minors

Supreme Court to consider restrictions on puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery for minors in October

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday to review the Biden administration's "equal protection" challenge to Tennessee's ban on puberty blockers and transgender surgeries for minors. 

The case, U.S. v. Skrmetti, will be argued in the term that starts in October.

It is the first time the high court will consider restrictions on puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery for minors.

Tennessee is one of 22 states that has measures banning such medical intervention for minors. 


The Supreme Court building

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

A federal appeals court had allowed the law in Tennessee and Kentucky to go into effect pending the outcome of ongoing litigation.

"Tennessee adopted a law that said, if you're under 18, a doctor can't provide you with hormone treatments or puberty blockers or gender reassignment surgery, for gender purposes. And we were sued by the DOJ, the ACLU and Lambda Legal," Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in an interview with Fox News last month. "We won in the Sixth Circuit, and now they're trying to get the US Supreme Court to address that. But the bottom line is the Court of Appeal saw it was states have the authority to decide whether or not these treatments should be legal within their boundaries. And some states authorize them. Some states don't. That's the way our system works."

Among those filing amicus briefs opposing the state law is actor Elliot Page. The Oscar-nominated star of "Juno," "Inception" and "The Umbrella Academy" is one of 57 transgender people who joined in supporting the Biden administration’s suit.


Elliot Page at NYC movie premiere

Elliot Page attends the "Close To You" premiere during 2024 NewFest Pride at SVA Theater on June 1, 2024, in New York City.  (Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)

And the administration in their filing with the high court says 25 states have laws restricting or banning "gender-affirming medical care" for transgender youth. South Carolina last week passed its law. 

Republican-led states have enacted a variety of restrictions on transgender surgeries and other medical intervention for minors, arguing in court documents that states have the right to protect child welfare against "experimental gender-transition procedures" and from doctors or medical professionals subjecting minors to "irreversible transitioning treatments."  

While transgender advocates have argued that major medical and mental health professional associations in the United States endorse such procedures, Alabama's solicitor general, for example, has argued in court filings that "radical" groups responsible for the regulation of endocrine medicine are miring "earnest and profound debate" about how best to help children suffering from gender dysphoria. 

"It's almost universal that parents have genuine love for their children far more than government loves their children. Tennessee simply recognizes this fact while the Biden administration, California, and a few other culturally motivated states feign their love for children while filling their pockets with cash from leftist organizations that seek to over-sexualize children," Robert Tyler, President and General Counsel of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

Tyler is not involved in this specific litigation picked up by the Supreme Court, but Advocates for Faith and Freedom has made similar arguments challenging a law making California a "transgender sanctuary state."

"Why should we trust extremist politicians more than parents when it comes to the best interest of a child?" he told Fox News Digital Monday. "Parental rights are protected under the due process clause and are enshrined in our constitution under the Fourteenth Amendment. We must ensure parents continue to have a say in what happens to their children - particularly regarding their mental and physical health."

LGBTQ flag

An LGBTQ+ flag decorates a desk on the Democratic side of the Kansas House of Representatives during a debate, March 28, 2023. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether a Tennessee ban on puberty blockers and transgender surgeries for minors is constitutional.  (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

Meanwhile, LGBTQ advocacy groups say denying young people transgender procedures is more dangerous. 

"The future of countless transgender youth in this and future generations rests on this Court adhering to the facts, the Constitution, and its own modern precedent," Chase StrangioDeputy Director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, said in a statement on Monday. "These bans represent a dangerous and discriminatory affront to the well-being of transgender youth across the country and their Constitutional right to equal protection under the law. They are the result of an openly political effort to wage war on a marginalized group and our most fundamental freedoms."

"This Court has historically rejected efforts to uphold discriminatory laws, and without similar action here, these punitive, categorical bans on the provision of gender-affirming care will continue to wreak havoc on the lives of transgender youth and their families," Tara Borelli, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal, added.  "We are grateful that transgender youth and their families will have their day in the highest court, and  we will not stop fighting to ensure access to this life-saving, medically necessary care."

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