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Statement on Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling to Enforce Bans on Gender-Affirming Care for Minors

As September came to an end, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, led by Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton and Judge Amul Thapar, disregarded established precedent on sex discrimination and rulings from other Circuit Courts. This allowed Tennessee and Kentucky to deny healthcare to trans children that is not denied to other children. 

The laws passed by right-wing legislatures and upheld by sympathetic judges contradict the right’s own rhetoric about protecting children, women, and girls and upholding parental rights. Health care for transgender people and youth is supported by every major medical association. Gender-affirming care has been found to be life saving for a population with high suicide rates. It is the lack of such care that causes life long difficulties. These laws not only put transgender youth at unnecessary risk, they infringe on well-established parental rights to make medical decisions for their minor children, and they hinder caring parents from supporting their trans children. 

It’s freakish they are focusing on this when people have real problems. The right may talk about inflation and gas prices, but the laws they actually put on the floor are the ones that take away people’s rights.

These laws are part of a calculated political agenda. Anti-trans activism and trans scaremongering, along with attacks on reproductive rights, public schools, higher education, and many other areas, are tools used by the ruling class to:

  • Divert attention from economic policies that could benefit people. This tactic helps maintain the status quo and prevent scrutiny of policies that favor the wealthy.
  • Create strife within the working class. When people are focused on cultural or identity-based conflicts, they can be less likely to unite around economic issues that would challenge the interests of the ruling class.
  • Sow discord within the broader working-class movement. When marginalized groups are pitted against one another, it weakens our collective power to advocate for broader economic and social change.
  • Maintain existing power dynamics and hierarchies through enforcing traditional gender norms and identities. Challenging these norms threatens the stability of their existing social order.
  • Fundraise!

This is not a secret, not a conspiracy theory. Our own Tennessee legislature admitted to refusing to prevent the forced marriages of underage girls to adult men because doing so might interfere with their attempt to again outlaw queer marriages in the state. Anti-LGBT (and misogynistic and Chrisitian nationalist) activists have publicly affirmed switching from anti-gay activism to anti-trans activism to maintain their fundraising. National GOP strategists have often spoken about how they intend to use trans attacks as a wedge issue turning the electorate against each other and helping them maintain power. 

None of these people who claim to “protect the children” care about children, trans or cis. Especially children of the working class. If they did, they’d be writing laws to enact universal maternal care, to create a budget for paid parental leave for all workers, to provide universal childcare, preschool, and pre-k. 

They’re not. They’re writing laws to prevent children from getting the healthcare they need.

In the face of escalating attacks, it is imperative that we rise united and resolute. The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are taking a bold step forward with our national campaigns, striving to provide the robust defense that the Democrats and others just aren’t doing. 

This fight requires collective action. The only thing that can beat an organized right is an organized left. Join DSA today at and get involved locally. Northeast TN DSA meets the second Wednesday of every month. Reach out to for meeting details. 

Solidarity across the working class is how we win the future.

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