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California leads 20-state coalition to block bans on some gender care for minors

By Kenneth Schrupp | The Center Square 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, left, speaks during a news conference
in Sacramento, Calif., on Monday, May 1, 2023. Adam Beam / AP Photo

California attorney general Rob Bonta is leading a coalition of 20 states opposing what they describe as “anti-transgender” laws in Tennessee and Kentucky blocking children from undergoing medical procedures that are given to enable minors to live with a gender identity different than that noted on their birth certificates, such as puberty-blocking hormones and gender change surgeries. 

In their amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs in L.W. v Skrmetti, a case combining lawsuits against Tennessee’s SB 1 and Kentucky’s SB 150, the coalition wrote the laws preventing hormone access to minors “single out transgender minors for discriminatory treatment.” 

“Gender-affirming care is safe, medically accepted, and empowers transgender people to lead healthier, happier lives,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Blocking access to gender-affirming care only serves to marginalize already vulnerable people and put their lives at risk. Kentucky and Tennessee’s laws are part of a growing assault on LGBTQ+ rights nationwide, driven by ignorance, bigotry, and partisan politics.” 

While a federal district judge issued a preliminary injunction against SB 1 due to a potential violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, the injunction maintained SB 1’s ban on gender surgeries for minors. Just a week later, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the preliminary injunction, noting the exceptions for continuing care of pre-existing minor patients and those with congenital defects, precocious puberty, disease, or physical injury. The case, combined with a similar case challenging a similar law in Kentucky, now faces the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The Bonta-led coalition, which includes Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington argues restricting transgender people’s access to gender-changing medical procedures significantly harms transgender teenagers. In support of this, they cite a 2020 study finding teenagers seeking “gender-affirming treatment at later stages of puberty are five times more likely to be diagnosed with depression and four times more likely to have anxiety disorders than adolescents who seek treatment in early puberty.”

Meanwhile, lawyers supporting the ban echo the Tennessee Senate’s official findings that some treatments for gender dysphoria “can lead to the minor becoming irreversibly sterile, having increased risk of disease and illness, or suffering adverse and sometimes fatal psychological consequences,” continue to cite lack of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of gender-changing medical procedures, and growing evidence of potential harm for children in their defense.

At home, in California, Bonta is investigating a local school district for civil rights violations because the district requires that parents be told if their child is involved in violence, talks about suicide, or asks to be called by a different name or use different gender-segregated facilities or programs than what is on their birth certificate. 

Kenneth Schrupp Reporter
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