In April 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, Lambda Legal, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP sued the State of Tennessee to block the state’s ban on medically necessary gender-affirming care for Tennessee’s transgender youth.
The legal advocates are suing Tennessee on behalf of Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old transgender daughter, two other plaintiff families filing anonymously, and Memphis-based medical doctor Dr. Susan Lacy.
In addition to banning best practice medical care for trans youth up to age 18, Public Chapter No. 1 would require trans youth currently receiving gender-affirming care to end that care within nine months of the law’s effective date of July 1, 2023, or by March 31, 2024. The law also establishes a private right of action against medical providers providing medically necessary care to trans youth.
“It was incredibly painful watching my child struggle before we were able to get her the life-saving healthcare she needed. We have a confident, happy daughter now, who is free to be herself and she is thriving,” said plaintiff Samantha Williams. “I am so afraid of what this law will mean for her. We don’t want to leave Tennessee, but this legislation would force us to either routinely leave our state to get our daughter the medical care she desperately needs or to uproot our entire lives and leave Tennessee altogether. No family should have to make this kind of choice.”
“I don’t even want to think about having to go back to the dark place I was in before I was able to come out and access the care that my doctors have prescribed for me,” said Samantha and Brian Williams’ daughter. “I want this law to be struck down so that I can continue to receive the care I need, in conversation with my parents and my doctors, and have the freedom to live my life and do the things I enjoy.”
On June 28, 2023, a federal judge blocked enforcement of this law while the legal challenge brought by several families and a doctor proceeds in court.
On July 8, 203 a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has accepted a request by Tennessee’s attorney general to lift an injunction issued by a lower court blocking enforcement of the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The law, originally set to take effect on July 1, took effect immediately.
On September 28. 2023 the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request from families and medical providers to block a Tennessee law banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. This ruling follows the earlier ruling by the Appeals Court rejecting a stay request to block enforcement of the law which took effect in July 2023.
On November 1, we asked the Supreme Court to review a September 2023 decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals allowing Tennessee’s ban to stay in effect.
Samantha and Brian Williams of Nashville and their 15-year-old transgender daughter, two other plaintiff families filing anonymously, and Memphis-based medical doctor Dr. Susan Lacy.
- Jonathan Skrmetti – Attorney General
- Ralph Alvarado – Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health
- Logan Grant – Executive Director of the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission
- Melanie Blake – President of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners
- Stephen Lloyd – Vice President of the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners
- Members of Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners: Randall E. Pearson, Phyllis E. Miller, Samantha Mclerran, Keith G. Anderson, Deborah Christiansen, John W. Hale, John J. Mcgraw, Robert Ellis, James Diaz-Barriga, and Jennifer Claxton
ACLU-TN: Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, Jeff Preptit, Stella Yarbrough
ACLU: Joshua A. Block, Chase Strangio
Lambda Legal: Tara Borelli, Avatara A. Smith-Carrington, Sruti J. Swaminathan
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP: David Bethea, Dean L. Chapman, Jr., Kristen W. Chin, Richard J. D’Amato, Christopher J. Gessner, Elizabeth D. Scott, Joseph L. Sorkin