ACLU Sues Ohio Over Law Banning Transgender Treatments for Minors

The organization alleges that the state’s prohibition on minors with gender dysphoria receiving drugs and surgeries violates several parts of the Ohio Constitution.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, shown after his election to the office in 2018, said he will uphold the Buckeye State's Constitution in court.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, shown after his election to the office in 2018, said he will uphold the Buckeye State's Constitution in court. (photo: Justin Merriman / Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio that challenges the constitutionality of the statewide ban on doctors providing 'gender-affirming' drugs and surgeries to minors.

In a lawsuit filed in the Court of Common Pleas for Franklin County, the ACLU alleges that the state’s prohibition on minors receiving drugs and surgeries violates several parts of the Ohio Constitution, including the health care provision and the equal protection clause. It seeks to overturn the statewide restrictions that would otherwise go into effect on April 24 and asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional.

The ACLU is further challenging another provision of the law that requires that only biological girls can participate in high school and college female athletics. The ACLU claims the rules are discriminatory against youths who identify as transgender.

“The ban on gender-affirming care will cause severe harm to transgender youth,” Freda Levenson, the legal director at the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement.

“These personal, private medical decisions should remain between families and doctors; they don’t belong to politicians,” Levenson said. “[This law] violates the Ohio Constitution in multiple ways. We will fight in court to ensure that trans youth and their parents can access critically important, lifesaving health care without government intrusion.”

The law was enacted on Jan. 24 of this year when Republican lawmakers voted to override a veto from fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, another Republican, indicated that he will defend the state law in court.

“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 in a post on X, formerly called Twitter.

“As I promised during the veto override, my office will defend this constitutional statute,” Yost added.

The law prohibits doctors from removing a child’s genitals or performing surgery to sterilize the child if those surgeries are intended to facilitate a sex change. It also prohibits doctors from removing healthy female breasts or altering the child’s genitals, chest, or any other part of the body to make them appear like that of the opposite sex.

Under the law, doctors could also not provide puberty-blocking drugs or any other drugs or hormone treatments that are meant to facilitate a gender transition in children.


What the Lawsuit Argues

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two families who have children who identify as transgender as plaintiffs, states that “gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition” and claims that the law “prohibits the use of well-established treatments for gender dysphoria in transgender adolescents.”

“Withholding gender-affirming medical treatment from adolescents with gender dysphoria when it is medically indicated puts them at risk of severe and irreversible harm to their health and well-being,” the lawsuit argues.

The lawsuit claims that the law violates the health care provision in Article 1, Section 21 of the Ohio Constitution, which states “no federal, state, or local law or rule shall prohibit the purchase or sale of health care or health insurance.” It also alleges that the law violates the equal protection clause in the state’s constitution, which declares that “all political power is inherent in the people [and] government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit.”

The lawsuit further alleges that the law violates the due process rights of the parents because it prevents them from providing certain medical care to their children in violation of their rights.

“By preventing Ohio physicians from prescribing medication to treat gender dysphoria in adolescents, the health care ban poses an enormous threat to transgender adolescents and their families, now and in the future,” the lawsuit claims.

The ACLU is asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order, which would prevent the law from going into effect while the court considers arguments about the constitutionality of the legislation.

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