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Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care takes effect as federal judge lifts injunction

by Michael Nguyen
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gender-affirming care

Kentucky’s prohibition on gender-affirming care for young transgender individuals has come into effect after a federal judge lifted the injunction that temporarily blocked the restrictions. U.S. District Judge David Hale’s recent ruling means that transgender minors in Kentucky are now prevented from accessing puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

Kentucky Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who requested the lifting of the injunction, celebrated the decision, while advocates for transgender rights criticized it.

Chris Hartman, the executive director of the Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group based in Kentucky, expressed concern over the impact of the statewide ban, referring to it as an “American tragedy.” Hartman emphasized the immediate harm that would be inflicted on young transgender individuals and their families, as they would be compelled to travel outside the state or even relocate entirely to access the necessary medical care.

Judge Hale’s reversal of his own order came nearly a week after the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a similar temporary injunction in Tennessee, halting the enforcement of a comparable law.

In the Kentucky case, seven transgender children and their parents filed a lawsuit seeking to block the law, arguing that it violates their constitutional rights and interferes with parental rights to pursue established medical treatments for their children.

Corey Shapiro, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, emphasized that Friday’s ruling is not the final word on the matter. The ACLU described it as a temporary setback, expressing confidence in achieving a positive outcome in another federal court.

Last month, Judge Hale issued an injunction blocking certain portions of the Kentucky law, one day before it was set to take effect. At the time, the judge acknowledged the plaintiffs’ strong likelihood of success in their constitutional challenges.

The sweeping transgender legislation was passed by Kentucky’s GOP-dominated Legislature this year, despite Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s veto. Governor Beshear criticized the measure for excessive government interference in personal healthcare matters. Attorney General Cameron, who is defending the law, is running against Beshear in the closely watched 2023 Kentucky gubernatorial race.

The lawsuit specifically challenges sections of the Kentucky law that ban puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender minors. It does not contest other sections related to school bathroom policies, teacher guidance on student pronouns, or rules regarding teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation.

Approximately 20 states have now implemented laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and many of these states are facing legal challenges. An Arkansas ban was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge, and bans in Alabama and Indiana have been temporarily blocked by federal judges. Oklahoma has agreed not to enforce its ban while opponents seek a temporary court order to block it. Additionally, a federal judge has blocked Florida from enforcing its ban on three children who have challenged the law.

The states that have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about gender-affirming care

What does the lifting of the injunction mean for Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care?

The lifting of the injunction means that Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care for young transgender individuals is now in effect. This prohibits transgender minors from accessing puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

How did Kentucky’s Attorney General and transgender rights advocates respond to the ruling?

Kentucky’s Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, welcomed the ruling as a “win for parents and children.” Transgender rights advocates, on the other hand, denounced the decision, expressing concern over the immediate harm it may cause to young transgender individuals and their families.

Is the latest ruling the final decision on the matter?

No, the latest ruling is not the final word on the matter. The ACLU of Kentucky, which is representing the plaintiffs, considers it a temporary setback. They express confidence in achieving a positive outcome in another federal court.

How many states have enacted similar laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors?

Approximately 20 states have implemented laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

What sections of the Kentucky law were challenged in the lawsuit?

The lawsuit specifically challenges the sections of the Kentucky law that ban puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender minors. Other sections of the law related to school bathroom policies, teacher guidance on student pronouns, and teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation were not contested.

How has the court’s decision affected access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors in Kentucky?

The court’s decision to lift the injunction has limited access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors in Kentucky. They may now be required to travel outside the state or even relocate entirely to access the medically necessary care they require.

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