U.S. judge lets Kentucky enforce ban on transgender youth care for now

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – A federal judge in Kentucky ruled on Friday the state can enforce its law banning the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormones for transgender children while he appeals his earlier order blocking the law .

Last month, U.S. District Judge David Hale ruled the ban likely violated the U.S. Constitution. However, he said he had to suspend his order because the federal appeals court hearing the case had recently suspended a similar order in Tennessee.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, in a statement called Hale’s decision “a victory for parents and children.”

The law is opposed by families of transgender children who say they will be irreparably harmed by losing access to medical treatment.

Hale’s ruling “is not the final word, and we remain optimistic that with a full briefing we will get a positive outcome,” said Corey Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the one of the attorneys representing the families, in a statement.

Kentucky and Tennessee are among 20 states, all with Republican-controlled legislatures, that have passed laws banning the use of puberty blockers and gender transition hormones for patients of under 18 years old.

These treatments, known as gender-affirming care, are supported by major American medical associations. Supporters of the bans say they are experimental and endanger children.

The now reinstated Kentucky and Tennessee laws were both blocked by federal judges on June 28 in response to lawsuits filed by families of transgender children. The families say the laws discriminate against transgender people and deny parents the right to make medical decisions for their children.

On July 8, the 6th United States Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from both states, granted Tennessee’s motion for an emergency order restoring the law while it appeals.

Hale said Friday that despite his “difference of opinion” with the appeals court, he found “no reason” to treat the Kentucky case differently.

The 6th Circuit said it would review the two cases together and aim to decide them by September 30.

Federal courts in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida and Indiana have blocked similar bans on transgender health care for minors.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

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