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Kentucky, Tennessee bans on gender affirming care to remain in place during appeal

Christy and Max Davis hold signs showing support for trans rights, including a sign that says: "Gender-affirming care saves lives." They came to the Kentucky Capitol Thursday to protest a bill that would prevent trans children like Max, an 11-year-old trans boy who lives in louisville, from receiving gender-affirming medical care.
Jess Clark
Christy and Max Davis came to the Kentucky Capitol Thursday to protest a bill that would prevent trans and nonbinary children from receiving certain types of gender-affirming medical care. Max is an 11-year-old trans boy from Louisville.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied another request to block Kentucky and Tennessee bans on gender-affirming care for minors while the court reviews a legal challenge to the laws. A final decision in the case is expected later this month.

The federal appeals court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of laws passed in Kentuckyand Tennesseethat ban hormone therapy and puberty blockers for transgender children seeking gender-affirming care.

In August, a three-judge panel denied a request to temporarily block the laws from going into effect while the challenge works its way through the court system. Attorneys for Kentucky’s medical licensure board asked for a rehearing before all of the judges on the appeals court – a request that is rarely granted.

The court denied that petition on Tuesday, saying the panel already considered the matter, allowing both states’ laws to remain in effect.

Angela Cooper, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, expressed disappointment with the ruling.

“Everyday that transgender youth are unable to access this care in Kentucky is a bad day,” she said. “These are just folks who want to live their lives and families who want to make medical decisions for their children and themselves.”

At issue is whether the state bans unlawfully discriminate against kids based on their sex or transgender status. Many major medical associations say gender affirming care should remain accessible to transgender youth.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a sweeping anti-trans bill earlier this year, banning gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, restricting how teachers talk about sexuality and barring trans youth from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender.

The ACLU and seven families with transgender children filed the lawsuit in May over provisions of the law that bar doctors from providing hormonal treatments and puberty-delaying medication to transgender children under the age of 18.

LPM News spoke with doctors earlier this year that said Kentucky’s law could have “devastating” effects for transgender youth.

Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at