WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday filed a complaint challenging a new Tennessee law that bans doctors from providing gender-affirming medical treatment such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery to transgender minors.
The Justice Department said the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, which promises equal protection.
The Justice Department also said it was asking the court to issue an immediate order to prevent the law from going into effect on July 1.
“No person should be denied access to necessary medical care just because of their transgender status,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s civil rights division said in a statement.
The law has also been challenged by advocacy groups American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, who filed a lawsuit last week seeking to strike it down.
The law would ban any medical procedure performed for the purpose of enabling a minor to identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
Republican state lawmakers who passed the bill in February said it was necessary to protect young people from being permanently harmed. But many medical associations have said the law is transphobic and that gender-affirming care can be life-saving.
Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed the ban into law last month along with a separate measure restricting drag performances in public. A federal judge blocked the drag law earlier this month pending the outcome of a lawsuit by an LGBTQ theater group.
The laws are part of escalating efforts by Republican lawmakers to regulate the conduct of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.
Several other U.S. states have banned gender-affirming care for minors, and over the last several weeks groups have sued over laws adopted in Utah, Florida, Indiana and Arkansas.
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