Federal judge blocks part of Senate Bill 150 that would block gender-affirming health care for transgender minors in Kentucky

By Sarah Ladd
Kentucky Lantern

A federal judge has blocked, at least temporarily, part of a recently passed state law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors.

U.S. District Judge David J. Hale ruled on Senate Bill 150, which the General Assembly passed in April. “The treatments barred by SB 150 are medically appropriate and necessary for some transgender children under the evidence-based standard of care accepted by all major medical organizations in the United States,” he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed to block SB 150 in May, asking for a preliminary injunction to block part of the bill while the larger legal challenge plays out. The legislation was to take effect Thursday.

The ACLU specifically took issue with the portion of the bill that prohibits health-care providers from prescribing puberty blockers or hormones, performing surgeries like phalloplasty and vaginoplasty or hysterectomies and vasectomies on minors.

Hale wrote, “These drugs have a long history of safe use in minors for various conditions. It is undisputed that puberty blockers and hormones are not given to pre-pubertal children with gender dysphoria.”

Hale was appointed by Barack Obama in 2014. In Tennessee, a federal judge appointed by Donald Trump ruled likewise in a similar case on the same day Hale ruled. Earlier, there were such rulings from an Obama-appointed judge in Arkansas and one in Florida named by Bill Clinton.

Judge Eli Richardson of Tennessee wrote, “To the court’s knowledge, every court to consider preliminarily enjoining a ban on gender-affirming care for minors has found that such a ban is likely unconstitutional.”

Transgender advocates have said such surgeries on minors are not happening in Kentucky. The state’s first openly trans elected official, Berea school board member Rebecca Blankenship, said on a recent KET appearance that “every LGBT organization in the commonwealth said that we were absolutely fine with banning those sorts of surgeries for minors. . . . We might as well ban unicorn attacks; it makes no difference.”
Attorney General Daniel Cameron called the ruling “misguided.” Cameron, the Republican nominee for governor, said in a press release that SB 150 is a “commonsense law that protects Kentucky children.”

“There is nothing ‘affirming’ about this dangerous approach to mental health,” hesaid. “My office will continue to do everything in our power to defend this law passed by our elected representatives.”

Cameron’s opponent, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, vetoed SB 150, but Republican-controlled legislature easily overrode him.

Blankenship, executive director of Ban Conversion Therapy Kentucky, said in a joint statement with Michael Frazier, a lobbyist for the group, that “puberty blockers and hormone therapy save lives.”

National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter called the decision a “a huge relief for the families targeted by this unnecessary and harmful law. She said the law “prevents doctors from doing their jobs and parents from making medical decisions for their own children.”
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