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DOJ Sues Tennessee Over Ban on Gender-Related Treatments for Minors

The DOJ is not the first entity to challenge the ban as the American Civil Liberties Union has pursued its own case.

The Department of Justice on Wednesday announced that it had filed a complaint against state law in Tennessee barring certain gender-related treatments for minors.

"The Justice Department today filed a complaint challenging Tennessee Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), a recently enacted law that denies necessary medical care to youth based solely on who they are," reads a DOJ press release. "The complaint alleges that SB 1’s ban on providing certain medically necessary care to transgender minors violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause."

The DOJ is seeking an immediate order to bar the law from taking effect on July 1. The government contends that the treatments are medically necessary for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria and that the banned treatments "have been recommended by major medical associations for consideration in limited circumstances in accordance with established and comprehensive guidelines and standards of care."

Filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee's Nashville Division, the complaint names Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti as a defendant, alongside Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health Ralph Alvarado, President of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners Melanie Blake, and other state officials.

Included in the complaint is a section entitled "Factual Allegations" that offers a full-throated defense of gender ideology in defining the concept of being transgender.

"Gender identity refers to a person’s core sense of belonging to a particular gender, such as male or female. Every person has a gender identity," it reads. "Transgender people are people whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth."

"SB1 violates the constitutional rights of some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens," said U.S. Attorney Henry Leventis. "Left unchallenged, it would prohibit transgender children from receiving health care that their medical providers and their parents have determined to be medically necessary."

The DOJ is not the first entity to challenge the ban as the American Civil Liberties Union has pursued its own case.

Roughly a dozen states have enacted bans on gender-related treatments for minors, including puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and sex reassignment surgeries. Many more are mulling such restrictions and the case will likely have implications for the myriad state governments pursuing those initiatives.

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