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Gender-affirming care ban set to take effect in KY this summer. ACLU asks court to stop it

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has asked a federal judge to temporarily block the state from enforcing Senate Bill 150, a Republican-backed law that bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Kentucky.

On Monday, the ACLU of Kentucky asked a federal court for temporary injunctive relief while a larger lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new law proceeds through the court system. Earlier this month, the advocacy organization filed a larger suit, Doe v. Thornbury, on behalf of seven unnamed minor plaintiffs and their families. It argues that the new law, passed this legislative session and poised to take full effect June 29, threatens to violate both plaintiffs’ and their parents’ individual protected rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

“The families we represent from across the commonwealth should be able to begin or continue essential medical care for their children while our case plays out in the courts,” Corey Shapiro, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky, said in a statement.

“Banning medically necessary care for trans youth is not supported by science or reputable major medical associations,” he added. “These are merely political attacks from groups with a fundamental opposition to transgender people being able to live openly, freely, and affirmed as who they really are.”

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, the larger suit challenges the portion of the Republican-backed law that bans gender transition health care services for youth living with gender dysphoria, including puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.

The ACLU’s 33-page motion for preliminary injunctive relief, co-filed with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, says the health care ban “is not only cruel, it violates the fundamental due process rights of parents to obtain established medical care for their children and denies transgender minors equal protection of the laws.”

A motion for injunctive relief is only granted if a court believes that not doing so will cause irreparable harm to the petitioning party. The ACLU argues, in this case, irreparable harm is more than inevitable if all of Senate Bill 150 is allowed to take effect.

The law violates the Equal Protection Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment, they argue, because it “expressly discriminates on the basis of sex,” the organization wrote. It “targets transgender adolescents, denying them medically-necessary care because of their gender nonconformity.”

This denial also violates parents’ rights under the same federal protections to “seek and follow medical advice to safeguard their children’s health,” the ACLU said.

Kentucky is one of several GOP-controlled states so far this year to pass a sweeping prohibition on health care targeting trans youth.

Later this week, the Ohio legislature will continue deliberating its own version of the anti-trans measure.

The commonwealth’s Senate Bill 150 not only outlaws gender-affirming health care for trans youth, it restricts and regulates curriculum in public K-12 schools about gender identity and sexuality, and requires schools to create enforceable policies that keep trans students out of bathrooms that don’t correspond with their gender assigned at birth.