As red states have moved to shield children from life-altering transgender procedures, several leftist legal groups have been working to block new laws protecting gender-confused young people from surgical and hormonal interventions.
Two of the most prominent groups leading the charge against the laws, the ACLU and Lambda Legal have ties to liberal foundations and are backed by powerful corporations, meaning that red state laws are facing the full power of Left-wing legal action.
Together Lambda, the ACLU, or Lambda and an ACLU affiliate, have challenged bans on child sex changes in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Tennessee.
Additionally, ACLU affiliates have promised to sue over similar laws in Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Utah.
Lambda Legal, which was founded in 1973, describes its mission as working “to change laws, policies, and minds so that LGBTQ+ Americans and everyone living with HIV can live with full equality.”
Its current CEO is Kevin Jennings, who worked in the Obama administration as assistant secretary of education, and has been associated with several LGBT groups in the past.
His leadership of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) brought controversy in 2000 after a Boston chapter of the network hosted talks like “Ask the Transsexuals” and “What They Didn’t Tell You About Queer Sex and Sexuality in Health Class,” which contained graphic descriptions of sex.
“This was a politically motivated witch hunt,” Jennings said at the time. “This one workshop is being seen as typical and that is not the case.”
Also on the executive team is Marco Chan, who is the chief of planning and program management. Chan has previously worked as a consultant for the World Bank and worked as a policy adviser for a variety of positions in the Canadian government, according to his LinkedIn page.
Another member of the executive team, Jennifer Pizer, was instrumental in overturning state laws that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. She also “co-authored a series of friend-of-the-court briefs explaining the threats to LGBT people of the religious challenges by Hobby Lobby.”
Jim Ferg-Cadima, the child of an illegal immigrant and deputy legal director for the group, was also an Obama administration alumni. He worked as the acting deputy assistant for policy for the Education Department before he became the chair of the Illinois Human Rights Commission by far-Left Governor J.B. Pritzker.
Other management team members also have ties to Left-wing activism including Kristine Kippins (tied to the radical pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights), Michael Schutt (starting LGBT and other diversity groups at Emory University and the University of Georgia), and Camilla B. Taylor (working to strike down state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman).
Lambda Legal also receives backing from major corporate sponsors, including banking giant JPMorgan & Chase, international law firm Kirkland & Ellis, Mastercard, Paycom, The Financial Times, Comcast NBCUniversal, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Ron Klain-linked law firm O’Melveny, Clinton-linked law firm Perkins Coie, alcohol company Southern Glazer, and Toyota.
Though most of its donors are not publicly known, it appears several Left-leaning organizations, including George Soros’ Open Society Foundation have backed Lambda.
The Open Society Foundation has consistently given six-figure grants to the group, beginning in 2016, the most recent being a$125,000 donation in 2021.
Lambda has also been the beneficiary of large donations from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, most recently receiving $20,000 from the group in 2021 and generous donations from the Overbrook Foundation through its “Advancing Reproductive and Gender Rights” program.
Though no surprise, the other legal group leading the charge against bans on transgender procedures is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its state level affiliates. Founded in 1920, the ACLU says that its purpose is to fight “government abuse and to vigorously defend individual freedoms including speech and religion, a woman’s right to choose, the right to due process, citizens’ rights to privacy.”
Well known cases brought by the ACLU include the 1925 Scopes trial which centered on the teaching of evolution in the classroom, Supreme Court cases in the early 2000s where the ACLU challenged restrictions on pornography, and cases of all sorts challenging religious actions at public schools.
The organization has a massive budget, with total net assets reaching well over $600 million in fiscal year 2022. The ACLU and its affiliates have also received the backing of large foundations like the Ford Foundation which gave a hefty $2,400,000 donation this past April. At the state level, the Tawani Foundation — the foundation for the mega-wealthy Pritzker family — gave the ACLU-TN $164,205 for the purpose of “legal work in TN to advance and defend justice for transgender individuals.”
The arguments from the ACLU generally say that the bans on trans surgeries for kids violate the constitutional rights of the students, arguing they are being denied equal treatment under the law.
“Politicians have no right to put themselves between patients and their doctors, and this law threatens the future of thousands of trans youth across the state,” said ACLU staff attorney Malita Picasso, referencing a recent lawsuit filed in Montana with the assistance of attorney from the ACLU, the ACLU of Montana, Lambda Legal, and Perkins Coie.
The judicial approach has worked in two states so far, with judges blocking bans on trans procedures for minors in both Alabama and Arkansas.
It remains to be seen how this approach will play out, especially with Biden’s Department of Justice filing suit against Tennessee on similar grounds. But like many issues in the past, from abortion to guns, the final call may go to the Supreme Court.