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Lawsuit seeks to halt Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care for trans minors

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The ACLU of Kentucky filed a lawsuit saying Senate Bill 150, Kentucky’s anti-transgender law, is unconstitutional.

The ACLU of Kentucky filed a lawsuit Wednesday afternoon saying Senate Bill 150, Kentucky’s anti-transgender law, is unconstitutional.

The ACLU of Kentucky alleged in a new lawsuit that Kentucky’s Senate Bill 150 violates due process and equal protections clauses of the federal constitution. Legal director Corey Shapiro said the law, which in part bans gender-affirming medical care for trans minors, infringes on parents’ rights.

Seven families with transgender children from across the state have joined the lawsuit, which hopes to block one of the strictest anti-transgender laws in the country.

“Trans people belong in Kentucky,” Shapiro said. “We will continue to fight for their right to equal protection under the law, and their family's freedom to raise them as they believe is best suited to allow these amazing kids to live full and authentic lives as guaranteed by the federal constitution.”

Shapiro said the law is not supported by major medical groups and takes away the fundamental rights of parents and doctors. The lawsuit specifically targets section four of the law, which bans gender-affirming medical care for trans minors. Though Shapiro declined to provide insight into the ACLU’s future plans for litigation, he said that “all aspects of SB 150 are threats to trans youth in Kentucky.”

SB 150 also included restrictions on which bathrooms students can use in public schools and allows teachers to misgender transgender students. Those parts of the bill went into effect immediately after the Kentucky Legislature voted to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto.

The ACLU of Kentucky has filed the initial complaint and intends to file for a preliminary injunction which would halt the ban of gender-affirming care for trans minors before it can take effect June 29.

“Nothing's ever a slam dunk. But we have seen successes like this in other states,” Shapiro said. “We're certainly optimistic that a court will agree with us. We think we have the winning arguments.”

In Alabama, a federal judge blocked part of a state law that made it a felony for doctors to provide some gender-affirming care to minors just days after it went into effect. A U.S. district judge also temporarily blocked a similar Arkansas law in 2021.

Shapiro said he has met with the families involved with the lawsuit, who are using pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

“They're just wonderful families who just want to be there for their kids and raise their kids in the most authentic and appropriate way that they believe is necessary,” Shapiro said. “And we want to stop Kentucky from telling the parents that they can't do that.”

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.