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Department of Justice states laws targeting trans youth are unconstitutional, ACLU releases statement

On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed court documents stating that the recently passed laws in Arkansas and West Virginia restricting transgender rights are unconstitutional.

In its court filings, the DOJ stated that the Arkansas law, which seeks to restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth, was “dangerous governmental intrusion.” One of the restrictions in the state law stops doctors from performing gender reassignment surgeries. They went on to say that under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, everyone, including trans people, have the right to nondiscriminatory access to health care.

“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 DOJ said.

The DOJ took a similar attitude in its court documents regarding West Virginia’s bill that seeks to prevent trans youth from participating in sports. 

“The United States has a significant interest in ensuring that all students, including students who are transgender, can participate in an educational environment free of unlawful discrimination,” the filings state. “This includes ensuring that recipients offer equal athletic opportunities to students regardless of their sex.”

The DOJ also stated that West Virginia’s law violates both the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX.

Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBTQ & HIV Project, issued the following statement responding to the DOJ submitting a statement of interest in two federal courts supporting transgender youth: 

“Today’s filings from the Department of Justice sends a powerful message that discrimination against transgender youth is not just wrong, it is also plainly unconstitutional. These filings from the Department of Justice confirm what we have been telling legislatures all year: Banning trans youth from sports and denying trans youth health care violates the Constitution and federal law. We hope that state legislatures finally get the message.” 

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