A Ray of Hope in Florida Could Impact Kentucky’s Trans Rights Battle

TALLAHASSEE – In a pivotal moment for transgender rights, a federal judge in Florida recently issued a preliminary injunction against a state law that would have barred gender-affirming care for minors​​. This development in the Sunshine State could have significant implications for Kentucky, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky prepares to challenge the Bluegrass State’s own anti-transgender legislation, Senate Bill 150 (SB 150)​​​​.

In the Florida case, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an injunction against the law, which would have prohibited the prescription of puberty-blocking and other hormone-related therapies for minors. Importantly, he also presented a constitutional challenge to the Florida law, arguing that families would likely succeed in their claims that the ban violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause​​.

Judge Hinkle’s injunction and the constitutional challenge he presented could provide a roadmap for similar legal battles across the country. In Kentucky, the passage of SB 150 has raised serious concerns. The legislation, which was rapidly expanded and passed by the state’s Republican-majority legislature in a process that took only a few hours, includes provisions that ban gender-affirming medical care for trans youths and allow teachers to misgender students​​.

The ACLU of Kentucky, which has called SB 150 “unconstitutional,” has taken action to block its implementation. They filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief from Section 4 of the bill, which is the part that bans essential healthcare for trans youth in Kentucky​​. The motion, filed with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, asks the court to prohibit the ban’s implementation while the ACLU’s case against the state, Doe v. Thornbury, proceeds​​.

The Doe v. Thornbury case, filed in the Western District of Kentucky on May 3, 2023, argues that trans youth and their families are entitled to equal protection under the law and freedom to access the things they need to live full and authentic lives, as guaranteed by the national and state constitutions​5​. The Department of Justice has also shown support for this argument, filing a Statement of Interest in the case and asserting that banning essential health care for trans youth violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution​​.

As the ACLU of Kentucky prepares to challenge SB 150, the outcome of the Florida case offers a beacon of hope. The decision by Judge Hinkle demonstrates that legal challenges to such laws can be successful, and it provides a compelling precedent for the argument that such bans violate constitutional rights.

However, the battle is far from over. With SB 150 scheduled to go into effect on June 29, 2023​​, the urgency of the situation cannot be overstated. The injunction issued in Florida, and the potential for a similar result in Kentucky, highlights the importance of steadfast legal action and advocacy in the fight for trans rights. The journey may be challenging, but the potential to protect the rights and well-being of trans youth in Kentucky is a cause worth fighting for.