The Justice Department filed a complaint this week challenging Tennessee’s recent legislation to protect minors from medically unnecessary and often irreversible “transgender” procedures and treatments.
The legislation signed into law by Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee in March prohibits a healthcare provider
…from knowingly performing or offering to perform on…a minor, or administering or offering to administer to a…minor, a medical procedure if the performance is…for the purpose of
(1) enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex; or
(2) treating purported discomfort or distress from a discordance between the minor’s sex and asserted identity.
The new law goes into effect July 1 unless the U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee moves to block it, as the Justice Department has requested.
The Justice Department alleges that the legislation violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause, “discriminating” against children who suffer from gender dysphoria. The law, the administration claims, would deny medical procedures (hormone therapy, cross-sex hormones, and surgery) to patients due to their “transgender” status, while others who need similar treatments due to physical injuries or illnesses would still have access to them.
In the suit, the Justice Department decries that a physician may “prescribe testosterone for a non-transgender male minor suffering from delayed pubertal development or a condition such as hypogonadism, but the law prohibits the same doctor from prescribing the same testosterone to a transgender male youth to affirm his gender identity.”
Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti have pushed back.
“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. The bill was passed by a supermajority of Republicans in the House, along with three Democrats. No Senate Democrats voted for it.
Lee tweeted his support of Skrmetti: “Tennessee is committed to protecting children from permanent, life-altering decisions. 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.”
Sex reassignment surgery has not been found to benefit those suffering from the psychiatric disorder called gender dysphoria. In fact, surgically altering otherwise healthy bodies can lead to a lifetime of medical issues (which is lucrative to those in the growing field of “trans medicine”) and even death.
LGBTQ activists say the risk of suicide and self-harm to those suffering with gender dysphoria is evidence for supporting early medical treatments, but those risks do not disappear after treatment. In fact, allowing minors access to hormone therapies without parental consent has actually been found to increase suicide risk.
In its suit against Tennessee, the Justice Department cites the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which suggests that “pubertal suppression may be used at Tanner stages 2-4 to prevent unwanted pubertal changes….”
The Tanner stages are ways to measure the stages of sexual development and are named after James Tanner, a child development researcher. Tanner stage 2 is the beginning of puberty: for girls, that’s between ages 9 and 11, and for boys, it begins around age 11.
The Justice Department also relies extensively on the recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) in its suit. In a May 2022 speech at Duke University, Marci (formerly Mark) Bowers, MD, surgeon and president of WPATH, observed that “…every single child … who was truly blocked at Tanner stage 2 … has never experienced orgasm. I mean, it’s really about zero.”
The Justice Department argues that children as young as nine, “some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens,” should be able to take the “medically necessary” step of ensuring a lifetime of sexual dysfunction.
U.S. Attorney Henry Leventis argues: “…the law seeks to substitute the judgment of trained medical professionals and parents with that of elected officials and codifies discrimination against children who already face far too many obstacles.”