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Biden administration joins legal bids to overturn ‘unconstitutional’ anti-trans laws

Josh Milton June 18, 2021
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LGBT+ activists rally in support of trans people on the steps of New York City Hall in 2018. (Drew Angerer/Getty)

The US Department of Justice has filed court documents arguing that recently passed anti-trans laws are unconstitutional.

On Thursday (17 June) the department filed statements of interests in two lawsuits that aim to overturn laws in West Virginia and Arkansas that target trans athletes and gender-affirming healthcare respectively.

Government lawyers said West Virginia’s anti-trans sports ban violates civil rights law, referring to the Department of Education’s recent move to extend Title IX protections to LGBT+ students,

Noting that Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in all federally-funded schools, the filings stated: “This includes ensuring that recipients offer equal athletic opportunities to students regardless of sex,”

Both West Virginia and Arkansas’ legislation, the paperwork continues, violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

The case against West Virginia was launched by some of the top LGBT+ groups on both the national and state level.

The American Civil Liberties Union, its West Virginia chapter and Lambda Legal mounted an challenge to the sports ban on behalf of trans 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson.

Running has always been a dream of Pepper-Jackson’s – but the bill, set to go into effect next month, has all but dashed that.

“A state law that limits or denies a particular class of people’s ability to participate in public, federally funded educational programs and activities solely because their gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth violates both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause,” the Justice Department filing said.

West Virginia’s law “does exactly this”, it adds.

The ACLU also filed a lawsuit against Arkansas’ cruel law that bans medical professionals from providing gender-affirming healthcare to trans minors, calling it a “dangerous government intrusion”.

It became the first US state to pass such a law, with lawmakers overriding governor Asa Hutchinson veto.

The suit was sent on behalf of four trans teens and their families, as well as two healthcare providers. They argue that the ban will cause irreparable harm to trans youth – one doctor has already reported a surge in trans teens attempting suicide since lawmakers passed the ban earlier this year.

“Rather than rely on the judgment of medical professionals and evidence-based treatment guidelines, Arkansas has inserted itself within one of the most confidential and personal of relationships: the physician-patient relationship,” the Justice Department wrote.

Lawyers added that under the 2020 Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, people have the right to have nondiscriminatory access to healthcare.

“Banning trans youth from sport and denying trans youth healthcare is unconstitutional,” the ACLU said in a social media statement after the legal briefs were made.

“Transgender students belong everywhere.”

Related topics: joe biden

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