Lawyers representing transgender adolescents and their parents last night urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to reverse a lower court ruling that denied a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of Oklahoma’s discriminatory law banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents with gender dysphoria.
In a brief filed last night, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and the law firm Jenner & Block LLP argue that the district court ruling is out of step with the law and the majority of federal trial courts that have examined this issue. The district court ignored the overwhelming evidence that medical treatment for gender dysphoria is safe and effective evidence-based medical care.
“Laws like Oklahoma’s ban on gender-affirming medical care have real and tragic consequences for transgender adolescents and their families,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Counsel and Health Care Strategist at Lambda Legal. “Medical treatment for gender dysphoria is safe and effective evidence-based medical care, and it saves lives. Yet, SB 613 endangers the health and wellbeing of transgender young Oklahomans by denying them access to this care and forcing loving parents to watch their children suffer. Medical decisions are to be made by families and their doctors, not by the government. The law and the facts counsel in favor of blocking Oklahoma’s dangerous and discriminatory law. We believe the district court erred by not doing so and look forward to making that argument before the Tenth Circuit.”
“All people deserve to access the medical care they need and to feel comfortable living as their authentic selves. This fight is far from over,” said Megan Lambert, Legal Director at ACLU of Oklahoma. “Gender-affirming care is individualized to meet the needs of each patient and managed through a careful and evidence-based model of assessment and informed consent. As the only evidence-based treatment for gender dysphoria, gender-affirming care should be accessible to all people who need it. Every family has the right to make medical decisions for their child, especially when the parents, child, and doctors all agree on what is best. Transgender youth are born into families of all kinds and in all communities, and they all deserve a safe place to grow and thrive. We are fighting not just for their future but for the future of generations of trans people.”
“The district court’s ruling was an affront to the rights of transgender youth, their families, and their medical providers,” said Harper Seldin, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “In just the last year, families across the country have had their lives uprooted and the well-being of their children threatened by laws like Oklahoma’s ban in a blatant violation of their rights under the Constitution. We’re confident the Tenth Circuit will not allow this erroneous ruling to stand, and we’re committed as ever to protecting the rights of our clients and every family with transgender youth.”
“The district court disregarded voluminous evidence that medical treatment for gender dysphoria is safe and effective evidence-based medical care and ignored the serious consequences of denying transgender adolescents access to this care,” said Laurie Edelstein of Jenner & Block. “Transgender adolescents in Oklahoma have the constitutional right to access necessary, safe, and effective evidence-based medical care. We believe the Tenth Circuit will agree.”
In a lawsuit filed in May on behalf of a group of families with transgender adolescents and Dr. Shauna Lawlis, the legal advocates asserted that Oklahoma’s SB 613, signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in May, unjustly and unfairly targets them in violation of their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them equal protection of the laws and interfering with parents’ fundamental rights to direct the medical care of their children.
SB 613 bans all forms of gender-affirming medical treatment for transgender youth and threatens providers who violate the law with a felony conviction and discipline from their professional licensing boards.
Leading medical experts and organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics oppose such restrictions. According to the Williams Institute of UCLA, there are an estimated 2,600 transgender youth ages 13-17 in Oklahoma.