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Amicus Brief

USA v. Skrmetti

After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit allowed transgender health care bans for adolescents to take effect in Kentucky and Tennessee despite pending legal challenges, the Southern Poverty Law Center joined other advocacy groups urging the court to reinstate orders that had blocked the bans amid the challenges.

The SPLC joined an amicus brief, also known as a friend-of-the-court brief, in USA v. Skrmetti. It describes how the state laws, which bar doctors from providing health care to transgender adolescents, discriminate on the basis of sex and are therefore subject to heightened judicial scrutiny. Such scrutiny merits blocking the laws as the courts consider the pending cases.

The bans deny care to transgender adolescents even when the adolescents, their doctors and their parents agree it is essential for their health. By allowing these bans to take effect despite pending legal challenges, transgender adolescents won’t receive the care they need. What’s more, their parents are blocked from acting in their children’s best interests.

The 6th Circuit is an outlier among courts examining laws denying health care access to transgender adolescents. District court judges in seven states, including Tennessee and Kentucky, have found in preliminary proceedings that such bans violate the constitutional rights of transgender people and cause immediate, irreparable harms. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit reached similar findings in preliminary proceedings. And a federal judge in Arkansas – the first to issue a final ruling – has permanently blocked that state’s ban.

The brief was filed by Jenner & Block LLP.

Other organizations joining the brief include GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Women’s Law Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Southern Legal Counsel, Equality Federation, Family Equality, Human Rights Campaign, Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, National Center for Transgender Equality, OUTMemphis, Tennessee Equality Project, Trevor Project and White Coats for Trans Youth.