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Two court rulings deal blow, victory to U.S. transgender advocates

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CNA Staff, Jun 12, 2024 / 12:20 pm (CNA).

Two court rulings in Florida and Texas simultaneously dealt both a victory and a setback to transgender advocates in the United States this week. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on his website on Tuesday that the state had “won a major victory” against the Biden administration over the White House’s attempt to rewrite federal Title IX law to include transgender protections.

The U.S. Department of Education issued new regulations in April that radically redefined long-standing federal sex discrimination policy under federal Title IX provisions. The new rules in part redefined “sex discrimination” under Title IX to include protections for “gender identity.”

Title IX rules apply to any educational institutions that accept federal money. Paxton in his press release noted that the revised rules “would have forced Texas schools and universities to allow biological males to use women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-specific spaces.”

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas said in its Tuesday ruling that the federal government “cannot regulate state educational institutions in this way without violating federal law.”

The government “engaged in unlawful agency action taken in excess of [its] authority, all while failing to adhere to the appropriate notice and comments requirements when doing so,” the court said. 

To allow the order to stand “would be to functionally rewrite Title IX in a way that shockingly transforms American education and usurps a major question from Congress,” the court said. “That is not how our democratic system functions.”

The Texas attorney general said the White House’s effort to redefine the federal law had been “stopped in its tracks.” 

“Threatening to withhold education funding by forcing states to accept ‘transgender’ policies that put women in danger was plainly illegal,” the attorney general said. “Texas has prevailed on behalf of the entire nation.”

Florida court strikes down ban on transgender procedures for minors

In a separate court decision, meanwhile, a Florida court struck down the state’s ban on extremist transgender procedures performed on minors, claiming that the law violated the U.S. Constitution. 

The state last year enacted a law banning transgender “medical care” procedures — such as synthetic cross-sex hormones and puberty-stunting drugs — for individuals under 18 years old. 

The law also said adults could only seek transgender-related treatment from doctors instead of nurses or other medical officials. 

In his ruling on Tuesday, District Judge Robert Hinkle said the bans and restrictions were “unconstitutional,” with the judge claiming that the state “can regulate as needed but cannot flatly deny transgender individuals safe and effective medical treatment.”

“Gender identity is real,” the judge said. “Those whose gender identity does not match their natal sex often suffer gender dysphoria. The widely accepted standard of care calls for appropriate evaluation and treatment.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office told media on Tuesday that the governor plans to appeal the decision. 

“Through their elected representatives, the people of Florida acted to protect children in this state, and the court was wrong to override their wishes,” a DeSantis spokesman said. “We disagree with the court’s erroneous rulings on the law, on the facts, and on the science.”

A growing number of doctors and lawmakers are calling for increased regulation over transgender procedures, particularly those performed on children.

Top medical groups and physicians recently signed a “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration that expressed “serious concerns” about the treatment of minors who are uncomfortable with their biological sex, with doctors calling upon the medical industry to “respect biological reality and the dignity of the person” rather than engage in extreme experimental procedures.

Other states including South CarolinaTennesseeand Alabama have passed various bans on transgender procedures for children. Countries in Europe including England and Scotland, meanwhile, have pulled back on allowing those procedures to be performed on minors.


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