Families of KY transgender minors ask U.S. Supreme Court to block health care ban

Seven transgender minors and their families challenging Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming hormone therapy and puberty blockers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the law from enforcement.

On Friday, plaintiffs challenging the new law in the commonwealth formally petitioned the country’s highest court to intervene on their behalf.

The plaintiffs argue that Senate Bill 150, passed earlier this year, violates parents’ Due Process rights to direct medical treatment of their child and infringes on trans adolescents’ Equal Protection rights. That’s because the law discriminates against them based on sex and their status as trans people, they say.

“This extraordinary law puts young people in Kentucky at well-documented risks of depression, anxiety, and in some cases, suicidality,” lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote in the filing.

“It usurps parents’ traditional authority over important decisions regarding their children’s health. It singles out transgender minors, a historically powerless, misunderstood and vulnerable group.”

The 41-page petition was filed late Friday afternoon by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. If the high court takes the case, it will become the first chance justices have had to consider trans health care restrictions. Twenty-one states so far have enacted similar restrictions.

The Kentucky plaintiffs — kids and teenagers between the ages of 9 and 16, along with their parents — are specifically challenging the law’s prohibition on cross-sex hormone therapy and puberty blockers, not gender-affirming surgeries.

Plaintiffs in a court case challenging a similar ban impacting trans youth in Tennessee filed their petition Wednesday. Plaintiffs in Kentucky announced their plan to file on Wednesday. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block either state’s law in late September, in a 2-1 ruling.

“The Sixth Circuit’s holding is wrong,” lawyers for Kentucky’s plaintiffs wrote in the Friday filing, asking for the ban to receive heightened scrutiny from the court.

“In the modern era, this court has never applied ordinary rational basis review to a law that so departed from our country’s traditional respect for parents’ rights and responsibilities that expressly classified on the basis of sex, or that singled out a vulnerable and politically unpopular group for disfavored treatment.”

Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming surgeries, hormone therapy and puberty blockers for youth with gender dysphoria has been in effect since July. After this provision — part of the larger SB 150 — became law with broad Republican backing over Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto in March, both organizations sued the state in May on behalf of those seven Kentucky families.

Each of the Kentucky plaintiffs was either receiving hormones or puberty blockers under a doctor’s care, or planning to in the near future, according to court filings. That medical care has ceased under the new law.

“We are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Sixth Circuit’s decision so that our clients can continue receiving the necessary, effective health care recommended by their physicians and supported by their parents,” ACLU of Kentucky Legal Director Corey Shapiro said Wednesday.

Lawyers said this case was “exceptionally important” with “nationwide ramifications.”

“In the past three years, 21 states have banned adolescents from obtaining medical care for gender dysphoria, throwing the lives of young people in these states into disarray,” they wrote. “This court should decide whether these statutes infringe on the constitutional rights of transgender adolescents and their families.”

This story may be updated.