The Justice Department filed suit on Wednesday against a new Tennessee law prohibiting doctors from performing irreversible transgender procedures on minors.
The federal lawsuit asserts the law violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by denying what it calls “medically necessary care” to minors. The complaint asks the court to issue an immediate stay to prevent the law from going into effect on July 1.
The Justice Department claims Tennessee’s Senate Bill 1 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by discriminating based on both sex and transgender status.
Legal scholars at The Heritage Foundation dispute that assertion. Sarah Parshall Perry and GianCarlo Canaparo said the law doesn’t violate the Equal Protection Clause because it treats all minors seeking to access transgender procedures equally, regardless of sex or gender identity.
“This law satisfies intermediate scrutiny because the state has an important interest in protecting the welfare of children and shielding them from life-altering, irreversible, and often regrettable medical procedures before they reach the age of majority,” Perry and Canaparo told The Daily Signal, the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.
“Likewise, the state also has an important interest in reducing the increased risk of suicide that comes from giving children easy access to body-altering treatments,” they wrote, adding:
The Department of Justice’s equal-protection violation claims are sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Henry Leventis, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said the bill “substitute[s] 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.”
Signed into law by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, on March 3, the measure prohibits procedures “for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with, or live as, a purported identity inconsistent with the minor’s sex.”
The procedures, which the DOJ calls “necessary medical care to youth based solely on who they are,” involve surgeries removing healthy muscles, glands, and body parts, as well as experimental hormone injections.
Hormonal treatments pose a serious threat to several glands in the endocrine system, which in turn can result in permanent sterilization, cancer, and gland failure in adults.
One of the off-label drugs used to “block” puberty is used to chemically castrate sex offenders. Lupron stops the body’s normal hormonal process, including the development of ovaries and testes, by “blocking” the brain’s ability to communicate with the pituitary gland.
The Tennessee bill follows a trend of state legislatures attempting to protect children who are too young to legally get a tattoo from making irreversible decisions about their bodies and future ability to reproduce.
Forty state legislatures have passed or introduced legislation to restrict transgender procedures.
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