Kentucky ban on gender-affirming care goes into effect as federal judge lifts injunction

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth was reinstated Friday when a federal judge lifted an injunction he issued last month that had temporarily blocked restrictions.

U.S. District Judge David Hale’s latest ruling means Kentucky’s ban goes into effect, barring transgender minors from accessing puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who had asked for the injunction to be lifted, applauded the decision, while transgender rights advocates denounced it.

“What the courts are allowing for LGBTQ people right now is an American tragedy, a tragedy that will tarnish the legacy of every judge who opened the door to LGBTQ discrimination,” said Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign. , a Kentucky organization. -LGBTQ+ based advocacy group.

Cameron called the latest ruling a “victory for parents and children,” adding that he was grateful the judge “did what the law requires, and that was to protect the children of Kentucky.” .

Hartman warned that the statewide ban would cause “immediate harm” to transgender youth and their families in Kentucky.

“They will now be forced to travel outside the Commonwealth or leave the state entirely to access their medically necessary care,” he said.

Hale’s reversal of his own order came nearly a week after the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned a similar temporary injunction ending the operation of a similar law in Tennessee. .

In the Kentucky case, seven transgender children and their parents sued to block the law. They argue that it violates their constitutional rights and interferes with parental rights to seek established medical treatment for their children.

Corey Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said Friday that the latest ruling “isn’t the final word” on the matter. The group called it a temporary setback and Shapiro said he was confident of getting a “positive outcome” in another federal court.

Last month, Hale’s injunction blocking parts of Kentucky’s law came a day before the measure took effect. At the time, the judge said the plaintiffs showed “a strong likelihood of success on the merits” of their constitutional challenges.

The sweeping transgender legislation was passed this year by Kentucky’s GOP-dominated legislature over the veto of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. Beshear said the measure allowed “too much government interference in personal health issues.” Cameron, whose office defends the law, challenges Beshear in the race for governor of Kentucky. It is one of the most watched elections in the country in 2023.

The lawsuit challenges sections of Kentucky law banning puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender minors. It did not cover other sections dealing with school toilet policies, guidance for teachers regarding student pronouns, and rules on teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation.

At least 20 states have now enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and most of those states are facing legal action. A federal judge struck down the Arkansas ban as unconstitutional, and federal judges temporarily blocked bans in Alabama and Indiana. Oklahoma has agreed not to enforce its ban while opponents seek a temporary court order blocking it. A federal judge blocked Florida from enforcing its ban on three children who challenged the law.

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

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