State Bans on Transgender Healthcare Challenged by Biden Administration in Supreme Court

The Biden administration filed an appeal on Monday, attempting to stop state prohibitions on gender-affirming healthcare. As a result, the Supreme Court decided to take up the cause of transgender rights.

The court’ decision coincides with a slew of limitations on transgender health care, school sports participation, restroom use, and drag performances that have been passed by Republican-led states. 

Protections for transgender individuals have been expanded by the administration and Democratic-led states. One such measure is a new federal law aimed at “safeguarding” transgender kids.

The Tennessee legislation that limits puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender kids is at issue in the case before the supreme court. After being stopped by lower courts, laws in Tennessee and Kentucky were finally allowed to take effect by the federal appeals court located in Cincinnati. (The Kentucky appeal was not considered by the Supreme Court.)

The Tennessee transgender adolescents’ attorneys told the justices that “transgender youth and their families will remain in limbo, uncertain of whether and where they can access needed medical care” if this court doesn’t step in quickly.

Despite the fact that gender-affirming medical therapies have been accessible in the US for more than ten years and are supported by significant medical societies, South Carolina became the 25th state this week to pass legislation limiting or outlawing such therapy for transgender pediatric patients.

Lawsuits are filed against most state regulations. Previously, when lower courts had blocked the limitations, the justices had authorized Idaho to impose them widely.

Transgender women and girls are prohibited by law from participating in specific women’s or girls’ sports in at least 24 states. Transgender girls and women are not allowed to use the women’s or girls’ restrooms in public schools or, in certain situations, other government buildings, according to legislation passed in at least 11 states.

The highest court in the country has hardly ever addressed transgender matters. 2020 saw the judges’ decision upholding a historic civil rights provision that shields gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals from discrimination in the workplace.

The Obama administration supported a transgender student who was denied use to the boys’ restroom at his Virginia high school, and the court decided to take up the issue in 2016. 

However, the court dismissed the case after the Trump administration’s initial repeal of a rule directing schools to permit children to use the restroom of their choice rather than their biological birthplace. The instruction had a significant role in the decision made by the appeals court to support Gavin Grimm, the student.

Grimm’s case was not taken up by the justices in 2021, even after the appeals court had once more decided in his favor. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas stated at the time that they would have considered the school board’s appeal.