LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (July 21, 2021) — A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked enforcement of Arkansas' ban on gender confirming treatments for transgender youth while a lawsuit challenging the prohibition proceeds.
"We knew this decision would be appealed regardless of how the court ruled, and we are confident the Eighth Circuit [Court of Appeals] will uphold the law and children will be protected. We need these bans and restrictions to protect children from experimental sex-reassignment surgeries, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones."
"Children should not be subjected to sex-reassignment procedures. Researchers do not know the long-term effects that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones can have on children – and that is why many experts agree that giving puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children is experimental at best. Judge Moody's decision fails to protect the children of Arkansas."
(in an interview with One News Now)
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in May asking U.S. District Judge Jay Moody in Little Rock to strike down the law that made Arkansas the first state to forbid doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or sex reassignment surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for such treatment. The ACLU sought the preliminary injunction while its lawsuit proceeded.
Moody, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, found that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed with their challenge and that allowing it to be enforced would hurt transgender youth currently receiving the treatments.
“To pull this care midstream from these patients, or minors, would cause irreparable harm,” Moody said.
The law had been set to take effect July 28.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of four transgender youths and their families, as well as two doctors who provide gender confirming treatments. The lawsuit argues that the prohibition would severely harm transgender youth in the state and violate their constitutional rights.
Arkansas' Republican-dominated Legislature overrode GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of the measure. Hutchinson vetoed the ban following pleas from pediatricians, social workers and the parents of transgender youths who said it would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, a Republican, said she planned to appeal the decision.
“I will aggressively defend Arkansas’s law, which strongly limits permanent, life-altering sex changes to adolescents," Rutledge said. “I will not sit idly by while radical groups such as the ACLU use our children as pawns for their own social agenda."
Moody issued the ruling shortly after hearing arguments from the law's opponents and the state for about an hour and a half.
The judge appeared skeptical of the state's argument that the ban was targeting the procedure, not transgender people. For example, he questioned why a minor born as a male should be allowed to receive testosterone but not one who was born female
“How do you justify giving that to one sex but not the other and not call that sex discrimination?" Moody asked.
Arkansas argued that the state has a legitimate interest in banning the procedures for minors. Republican attorneys general from 17 states asked Moody to uphold the ban.