A federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas has struck down the state’s first-in-the-nation ban of hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery for transgender minors.
U.S. District Judge Jay Moody ruled on Tuesday that the law violated the constitutional rights of transgender youth and their families and also violated the First Amendment rights of health care providers by prohibiting them from referring patients elsewhere.
“Rather than protecting children or safeguarding medical ethics, the evidence showed that the prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the state undermined the interests it claims to be advancing,” Moody wrote.
Moody argued that the plaintiffs—four transgender youths, their families and their doctors—had prevailed on all their claims and ruled the ban violates the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clauses, and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Two years ago, Moody granted a temporary injunction to block the law just two weeks before the bill was set to go into effect. Last year, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Moody’s temporary block of the law in 2021.
Arkansas Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin said he plans to appeal the ruling to the 8th Circuit.
“I am disappointed in the decision that prevents our state from protecting our children against dangerous medical experimentation under the moniker of ‘gender transition,’” he wrote in a statement. “Unfortunately, Judge Moody misses what is widely understood across the United States and in the United Kingdom and European countries: There is no scientific evidence that any child will benefit from these procedures, while the consequences are harmful and often permanent. I will continue fighting as long as it takes to stop providers from sterilizing children.”
In 2021, the state legislature overrode a veto by former Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had argued that the law went too far by blocking current patients from continuing treatment.
Meanwhile, in March, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation to make it easier to sue providers of transgender procedures for children. That law takes effect later this summer.
In a statement posted on Twitter after the ruling, Sanders asserted “This is not ‘care’—it’s activists pushing a political agenda at the expense of our kids and subjecting them to permanent and harmful procedures. Only in the far-Left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children. We will fight this and the Attorney General plans to appeal Judge Moody’s decision to the 8th Circuit.”
To date, 16 other states have followed Arkansas’ lead to ban gender surgeries and the administration of cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers on children under age 18.
Photo: Jametlene Reskp / Unsplash.com