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State Of Washington Sued Over Law Banning Alternatives To Transgender Surgeries

TACOMA, WA. -  States, counselors, medical professionals, feminists, and minority faith groups have filed friend-of-the-court briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, urging it to consider the case of Brian Tingley. Tingley, a licensed marriage and family counselor, claims that a Washington state law violated his constitutional rights by censoring him.

Tingley argues that a Washington state law restricts his freedom of speech and interferes with his religious beliefs, as well as those of his clients. He claims that the law censors specific private conversations between clients and counselors regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, which the government disapproves of, while promoting and endorsing conversations that align with the government's preferences. 

Last month, attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), representing Tingley, requested the Supreme Court to reconsider a ruling made by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. This ruling upheld a district court's decision to dismiss Tingley's legal challenge to the law.


ADF believes the issue of government control over a counselor's speech with clients is a matter of concern. According to John Bursch, ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy, the Counseling Censorship Law in Washington is seen as a violation of freedom of speech and is believed to have negative effects on both counselors and clients. 

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Bursch says Brian has provided counseling services to individuals from various backgrounds for over two decades. According to Bursch, these conversations are considered private and are not subject to government censorship, and that the involvement of the government in dictating personal goals for clients in counseling is not a matter of debate. 

He says a group of individuals and organizations have requested the Supreme Court to consider this case and address the issue of Washington state officials attempting to restrict speech based on disagreement with expressed viewpoints.

In 2018, the state of Washington implemented a law that restricts discussions between a counselor and a minor client with the intention of altering the young person's perceived gender identity or sexual attractions. In the lawsuit, Tingley v. Ferguson, it is mentioned that the law restricts certain conversations in a voluntary counseling relationship between clients and counselors. These conversations are focused on personal goals chosen by the clients themselves.

ADF claims the law has a specific restriction on counseling in one direction. It permits counseling conversations that encourage a young person to explore a transgender identity, but it prohibits conversations that aim to assist the same person in returning to comfort with their assigned sex, if that is their preference. The law allegedly imposes potential consequences such as fines of $5,000 per violation, suspension from practice, and permanent revocation of a counselor's license.

Tingley has been providing counseling services through a private practice since 2002. He provides counseling services to individuals of various age groups and relationship dynamics. He also assists clients in addressing challenges related to marriage and family issues in addition to matters concerning sexual orientation, gender identity, depression, anger, and stress management. ADF says Tingley utilizes common counseling techniques, such as actively listening to clients and providing support as they navigate their individual challenges and strive to achieve personal objectives.

The Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) says that there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the two Dutch studies, often cited by proponents of gender transition procedures, have significant flaws. Additionally, it appears that advocates in this field tend to overstate the known benefits while downplaying or concealing the known risks and potential consequences of transgender surgery. 

CMDA also says that the medical procedures in question are unnecessary as scientific evidence suggests that gender dysphoria in minors typically resolves on its own, and that these procedures can have irreversible, invasive, and harmful consequences.

The also say that there is a growing body of evidence that has prompted several governments and medical institutions worldwide to advocate for psychological evaluation and support as an alternative to gender transition procedures, and that U.S. counselors and physicians should have the opportunity to discuss the evidence related to gender transition procedures, which includes discussing the actual risks and permanent changes that may occur.

A brief supported by the state of Idaho and joined by 12 other states says that individuals should not have to decide between pursuing a licensed profession and exercising their right to freedom of speech. The states say the First Amendment provides protection to Americans against certain fundamental compromises, and that free speech plays a crucial role in ensuring that professions are guided by truth rather than dogma. They also say the First Amendment protects the medical field as much as it does the political arena.

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