A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that an Arkansas law banning hormone treatments, puberty blockers or surgery for transgender minors was unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Jay Moody says the nation’s first law violates the due process and equal protection rights of transgender youth and their families and violates the First Amendment rights of healthcare providers by prohibiting them from referring patients elsewhere.
“Rather than protecting children or safeguarding medical ethics, evidence has shown that prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that by prohibiting it, the state has undermined the interests that ‘he claims to defend,’ Moody wrote.
Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin said he was “disappointed” with the decision and plans to appeal to Circuit Eight.
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“I am disappointed with the decision that prevents our state from protecting our children from dangerous medical experimentation under the name of ‘gender transition,'” he wrote in a statement. “Unfortunately, Justice Moody misses what is widely understood in the US, UK and European countries: there is no scientific evidence that a child will benefit from these procedures, while the consequences are harmful and often permanent. I will continue to fight as long as it takes to stop providers from sterilizing children.
Last year, the Eighth Circuit upheld Moody’s temporary blocking of the law in 2021.
The ban was signed into law in 2021 after the state legislature overruled the veto of former Governor Asa Hutchinson who argued the law had gone too far in preventing current patients from continuing their treatment.
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“This decision sends a clear message,” Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement after the decision. “The alarmism and misinformation about this health care does not hold up to scrutiny; it hurts trans youth and needs to stop. Science, medicine and the law are clear: gender-affirming care is needed to ensure that these young Arkansans can thrive and be healthy.
The ACLU had filed a banning lawsuit on behalf of four transgender youth and their families and two doctors.
In March, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation to make it easier to prosecute providers of transgender procedures for children. The law will come into effect later this summer.
In a statement posted to his Twitter after the ruling, Sanders said, “This is not ‘care’ – this is activists pushing a political agenda at the expense of our children and subjecting them to permanent and harmful procedures. Only in the far left’s waking vision of America is it inappropriate to protect children. We will fight this and the Attorney General plans to appeal Judge Moody’s decision to the Eighth Circuit.
Dylan Brandt, a 17-year-old transgender, testified that he was receiving hormone therapy in the state before the ruling.
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“I am so grateful that the judge heard my experience of how this health care has changed my life for the better and saw the dangerous impact this law could have on my life and the lives of countless other transgender people. “Brandt said in a published statement. by the ACLU.
Other Republican-led states have since passed similar laws restricting transgender proceedings, with some facing legal challenges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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