News This Week: Appeals Court Rules Arkansas Cannot Prevent Gender-Affirming Treatment Of Trans Children

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the state of Arkansas cannot enforce a law banning trans children from receiving gender-affirming treatment.

The law was put into place in 2021, preventing medical providers from distributing gender-affirming treatments, including hormones, surgery and puberty blockers to minors under the age of eighteen, despite the fact that no doctor or medical provider in the state is performing any such treatments.

“Because the minor’s sex at birth determines whether or not the minor can receive certain types of medical care under the law, Act 626 discriminates on the basis of sex,” the court ruled.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit last year in representation of four trans youth and their families.

“If the health care ban goes into effect,” the lawsuit said, “it will have devastating consequences for transgender youth in Arkansas. These young people will be unable to obtain medical care that their doctors and parents agree they need – and those already receiving care will have their treatment abruptly halted – which could have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences.”

“The Eighth Circuit was abundantly clear that the state’s ban on care does not advance any important government interest and the state’s defense of the law is lacking in legal or evidentiary support,” Chase Strangio said via statement, who is deputy director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV project. “The state has no business categorically singling out this care for prohibition.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed the ban, but was overridden by Republican lawmakers. He said he would have signed the legislation had it focused solely on gender- confirming surgery.

He called the ban “the most extreme law in the country.”

“No other state has passed such a law that interferes with a parent making health care decisions for minor children based upon a doctor’s recommendations when the recommendations are based upon generally accepted medical guidance,” he said in a statement.

Sources: The Week, AP News.

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