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ACLU sues Ohio over law banning minors from puberty blockers, hormone replacement

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the state of Ohio for a law slated to take effect next month that bars gender transition surgeries and hormone blockers for minors.

The lawsuit — filed by the ACLU and global law firm Goodwin against Ohio State Attorney General Dave Yost and the state’s medical board — is on behalf of two 12-year-old transgender girls and their families who are asking the court to block the law from being enacted on April 24. 

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Yost, a Republican, said his office is prepared to defend the law.

“We protect children with various restrictions that do not apply to adults — from signing legal contracts to buying alcohol and tobacco and more,” Yost said. “As I promised during the veto override, my office will defend this constitutional statute.”

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The state’s medical board told Fox News Digital it does not comment on pending litigation.

This photograph shows the logo of the American Civil Liberties Union. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images)

The law, passed as House Bill 68, will also ban biological men who identify as transgender women from participating in women’s sports. Ohio Republicans overrode Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of the bill in January. 

Freda Levenson, a legal director at the ACLU, said in a statement that the ban on “gender-affirming” procedures and treatments “will cause severe harm to transgender youth.”

“These personal, private medical decisions should remain between families and doctors; they don’t belong to politicians,” Levenson said.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, alleges the bill is “unconstitutional” because it combines two bills and violates the single-subject rule in the state’s constitution, since the first part would bar transgender women from participating in women’s sports, and the second would ban physicians from carrying out gender transition surgeries or providing puberty blockers to minors. 

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People protesting

Protesters of Kentucky Senate Bill SB150, known as the Transgender Health Bill, cheer on speakers during a rally on the lawn of the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, on March 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

The ACLU further argues that preventing these “medically necessary” procedures will cause kids with gender dysphoria to suffer, and also violates their rights under the state’s equal protection clause. 

“Treatment with gender affirming hormone therapy is demonstrated to result in improvement in symptoms of gender dysphoria, depression, and anxiety in transgender youth, as well as improved psychological functioning among transgender young adults who receive treatment for gender dysphoria,” the lawsuit states. 

“In the absence of intervention, distressing physical changes of puberty will progress,” it continued. “To not intervene, when gender-affirming medical care is indicated, thus causes significant harm to the patient in the form of increasing gender dysphoria associated with the development of secondary sex characteristics that do not match the person’s gender identity.”

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A list of supplies that were described as “helpful during puberty” including puberty blockers. (Fox News Digital)

In December, DeWine vetoed the bill, arguing it was about “protecting human life.” Before the veto, DeWine spoke with healthcare professionals — all of whom support puberty blockers for minors — as well as families with transgender children. 

“I have also been told, by those that are now grown adults, that but for this care, they would have taken their lives when they were teenagers,” DeWine said at the time. “Parents are making decisions about the most precious thing in their life, their child, and none of us should underestimate the gravity and the difficulty of those decisions.”

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More conservative states have begun ramping up laws restricting both surgical and hormone blockers for minors. States such as Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Florida have gone a step further to criminalize such procedures, deeming it a felony to perform sex change surgeries on minors or provide them with any hormone-altering treatments.

Meanwhile, several more liberal states have created “shield laws” that protect these procedures and gender-transition drugs for transgender people and children. Those states include California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, Illinois and Massachusetts.

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