Tennessee has an interest in regulating gender-affirming care for children, state Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti told Newsmax on Tuesday.
"There's nothing wrong with saying that if you're going to have permanent consequences, you need to be an adult to understand the ramifications," Skrmetti told "National Report." "We do that in so many other contexts."
"We regulate the medical industry," Skrmetti said. "We regulate healthcare in so many different ways to make sure that kids are getting the right treatment, to make sure that all Americans are getting appropriate treatment. There are things that are prohibited.
"There are things that people have to wait to do, and this is a situation where kids just aren't legally able to consent to these lifelong consequences. They could face sterility. They could never be able to have children because of a decision they make in their childhood, and the state has every right to regulate that."
Three transgender children and their parents sued Tennessee late last month over a new state law that bans gender-affirming care for minors.
Scheduled to take effect July 1, the law prohibits healthcare workers from providing hormone therapy or surgeries for transgender children that would allow the child to express a gender identity "inconsistent with the immutable characteristics of the reproductive system that define the minor as male or female."
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nashville by the American Civil Liberties Union, its Tennessee affiliate, Lambda Legal, and the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
The Justice Department last week filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the new Tennessee statute because "no person should be denied access to necessary medical care just because of their transgender status," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke wrote in a statement.
The DOJ said the law violates the Constitution's equal protection clause by discriminating on the basis of both sex and transgender status.
"So we have these three big entities suing the state, and their argument is that juveniles should be able to have this irreversible treatment," Skrmetti said. "The state Legislature very deliberately passed this ban out of fear that kids were rushing into these treatments, not just surgeries, but the hormone treatments, and these are going to have lifelong consequences."
"They heard from the children who had had these treatments, who regret it, and we have seen a shocking rise in the number of diagnoses of gender dysphoria and of these intrusive, irreversible treatments," he said. "The Legislature is very concerned about it, and the Department of Justice has the position now that the Constitution requires that the state allow these kids to have access to these irreversible treatments."
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