A federal judge in Kentucky ruled Friday that the state can enforce its law prohibiting the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormones for transgender children while it appeals his previous order blocking the law.
Last month, U.S. District Judge David Hale found that the prohibition likely violated the U.S. Constitution. However, he said he had to suspend his order because the federal appeals court hearing the case recently halted a similar order in Tennessee.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, called Hale’s decision “a victory for parents and children” in a statement.
The law is being contested by families of transgender children who argue that they will suffer irreparable harm by losing access to medical treatments.
Hale’s decision “is not the final verdict, and we remain hopeful that with a comprehensive briefing we will achieve a positive outcome,” said Corey Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and one of the attorneys representing the families, in a statement.
Kentucky and Tennessee are among the 20 states, all with Republican-controlled legislatures, that have enacted laws prohibiting the use of puberty blockers and hormones as part of gender transition for patients under 18.
Such treatments, known as gender-affirming care, are endorsed by major U.S. medical associations. Supporters of the bans argue that they are experimental and pose risks to children.
The reinstated laws in Kentucky and Tennessee were both blocked by federal judges on June 28 in response to lawsuits filed by families of transgender children. The families contend that the laws discriminate against transgender individuals and infringe upon parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children.
On July 8, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles cases from both states, granted Tennessee’s request for an emergency order to reinstate the law while it appeals.
Despite his “difference of opinion” with the appeals court, Hale stated on Friday that he found “no grounds” for treating Kentucky’s case differently.
The 6th Circuit has announced that it will review the two cases together and aim to render a decision by Sept. 30.
Federal courts in Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, and Indiana have also blocked similar bans on transgender healthcare for minors.