A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a law in Arkansas that would have banned state doctors from providing transitional health care – such as hormones and puberty blockers – to transgender minors.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the law in May on behalf of four trans teenagers and their parents and two doctors providing gender-equitable health care, arguing that it violated the U.S. Constitution.
Proponents of the law argue that transitional health care is “experimental” and that transgender minors are too young to receive this care.
Judge James M. Moody Jr. of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas heard arguments in the case Wednesday morning and upheld the ACLU’s motion for an injunction against the law, which was due to go into effect next week.
Holly Dickson, executive director of the Arkansas ACLU, said in a statement that the ruling “sends a clear message to states across the country that gender-based care is life-saving care, and we will not leave politicians in Arkansas – or anywhere else -” it gone. “
“Today’s victory is a testament to Arkansas trans youth and their allies who have never given up the fight to protect access to gender equality and will continue to defend the right of all trans people to be their authentic selves, free of discrimination, “she said.” We will not rest until this cruel and unconstitutional law is finally repealed.
In addition to the ACLU, the plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU of Arkansas and the law firms Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Gill Ragon Owen, and the law firm Walas.
The lawsuit names Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and members of the Arkansas State Medical Board as defendants.
Rutledge told NBC News in an email after the ACLU filed the lawsuit that it would “aggressively defend Arkansas law that severely restricts permanent, life-changing sex changes to adolescents.”
“I will not stand idly by as radical groups like the ACLU use our children as pawns for their own social agenda,” she said.
The Arkansas State Medical Board announced that it has no pending litigation comments.
The state received support from 17 attorneys-general who filed an amicus brief on the case – a move that lawyers say is largely unprecedented, Nov.
This support shows that the injunction is not the end, but plaintiffs celebrated it as a victory nonetheless.
Dylan Brandt, one of the young people represented by the ACLU, said during a press conference after the hearing on Wednesday that the plaintiffs want other trans children to know that “we stand behind them”.
“We should all be free to make decisions about our medical care with the support of our parents and experts in the field,” said the 15-year-old.
Dylan Brandt’s mother, Joanna Brandt, spoke on behalf of the parents involved in the lawsuit.
“We have seen the benefits of this health care firsthand,” she said during the press conference. “Our children have suffered and with that care they have a level of hope and happiness that we have never seen. We are no different from any other parent in Arkansas. We love our children and we want them to be healthy, loved, and loved grow up.” secure.”
Joanna Brandt said the law “ignores” what health professionals say about gender-based care. Major medical associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the Endocrine Society support, among other things, access to gender equitable care for transgender minors.
Research has found that access to health care such as puberty blockers, which temporarily interrupt puberty, is associated with a lower risk of suicide among young transsexuals.
At least one doctor in Arkansas said she saw the effects of the state proposal even before it went into effect.
Shortly after the bill was passed in the House of Representatives in late March, Michele Hutchison, a pediatrician at the Gender Spectrum Clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and another plaintiff in the case, told the State Senate that “several children were in our emergency room.” of a suicide attempt, especially in the last week. “
The ACLU, as well as grassroots groups in the state like Intransitive Arkansas, a transnational advocacy group, urged Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto the law after it cleared the legislature in March, and he did.
At the time, he described the move as “a massive government encroachment” on private medical decisions, but Arkansas lawmakers suspended the veto the next day.
Some Arkansas families with trans children have since left the state. Others, including some of those represented by the ACLU, have said they will leave unless the law is finally repealed.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Chase Strangio, an attorney for the ACLU, noted that the group recently had success in a number of states where actions against transsexuals were blocked by pending judges.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in Tennessee blocked a law requiring companies to post a notice if they would allow transgender people to use toilets that match their gender identity. Last year, an Idaho federal judge also blocked a law that would have banned transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in middle school, high school and college.
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