Media Contact

Lambda Legal: Tom Warnke,
ACLU: Gillian Branstetter,
ACLU of Tennessee: Lindsay Kee, 615-320-7142

April 20, 2023

April 20, 2023

NASHVILLE, TN – Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Tennessee, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP today sued the State of Tennessee to block the state’s recently enacted discriminatory 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 L.W., 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.”

“The attack that Tennessee legislators and the governor have launched against transgender youth and their families and providers is stunning in its cruelty,” said Sruti Swaminathan, staff attorney for youth, Lambda Legal. “They are actively ignoring the science, dismissing best-practice medical care, intervening in a parent’s right to care for and love their child, and explicitly exposing trans youth in Tennessee to rampant discrimination. This law is not just harmful and cruel, it is life-threatening.”

“Families of transgender youth, like every family, do everything they can to love and support their children and keep them safe. They spend years discussing gender-affirming care with medical professionals and only proceed when such care is medically necessary,” said Lucas Cameron-Vaughn, ACLU-TN staff attorney. “The brave families filing this lawsuit are taking a stand for their transgender children despite being targeted by hateful politicians and media personalities. For them, it’s not about politics – it’s about the freedom to access vital, life-saving healthcare for their families. We are proud to be by their side and want all trans youth in Tennessee to know that we see them and will always defend their rights.”

“Tennessee’s law is an unconscionable attack on transgender youth and their families,” said Joshua Block, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ &HIV Project. “There is simply no reason other than ignorance or prejudice to single out gender-affirming care for a categorical ban based on standards that Tennessee does not apply to any other type of medical treatment. Transgender families should not have to flee their home state to access this necessary medical care.”

Bans like Public Chapter No. 1 are opposed by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the Williams Institute of UCLA, there are an estimated 30,800 trans Tennesseans, of whom about 3,100 are youth between the ages of 13-17.

Any person at risk of being affected by these restrictions on gender-affirming care should reach out to the Lambda Legal Help Desk or fill out the ACLU of Tennessee's legal intake form.