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Biden admin. says laws banning puberty blockers, males in women's sports unconstitutional

Merrick Garland
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice on April 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C. |

The Department of Justice argued Thursday that state laws barring the prescription of puberty blockers to trans-identified minors and statutes banning males competing in female sports are unconstitutional. 

This week, the Justice Department filed statements of interest in lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against laws in West Virginia and Arkansas that it argues discriminate against transgender individuals. 

The West Virginia law bars trans-identified males who identify as females from competing in girls' and women's sports. The Arkansas law bans doctors from prescribing hormone therapy and puberty blockers for trans-identified minors.  

The Biden administration argued that such laws violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

"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 and that the proper legal standards are applied to claims under Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause," the agency argued in the West Virginia filing.

The department also asserted that an Arkansas law called the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, which outlawed the experimental practices of giving puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and performing cosmetic gender surgeries on minors, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. 

Earlier this year, Arkansas lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the SAFE Act, which Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed. The state legislature ultimately overrode his veto and the American Civil Liberties Union summarily filed a lawsuit against the state. 

"Federal law bars the State of Arkansas from singling out transgender minors for specifically and discriminatorily denying their access to medically necessary care based solely on their sex assigned at birth," the filing reads. "Such action would violate the Equal Protection Clause."

The federal government action comes on the heels of a number of moves from the Biden administration in support of transgender ideology as states grapple with transgender policies.

In March of last year, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to escalate across the world, Idaho became the first state in the nation to require that both female sports and vital statistics in public records be preserved on the basis of biological sex. 

This week, the U.S. Department of Education scrapped the Trump administration's position that Title IX, the section of federal law pertaining to civil rights in the educational arena, did not apply to "gender identity." 

The Biden administration's justification to extend protections based on sex to include gender identity and sexual orientation has been grounded in a Supreme Court decision from June 2020 even though the high court held that the ruling only applied to the area of employment. 

In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme court held that firing someone based on sexual orientation and "transgender status" is a form of sex discrimination under Title XII federal law. The ruling was a consolidation of three cases, two involving gay employees and the other involving a trans-identified male who wished to be acknowledged as female while on the job at a Michigan funeral home. 

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