Arkansas ban on caring for transgender youth follows trail

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas. This week, Arkansas begins the nation’s first trial over the state’s ban on gender-confirmed childcare, the latest battle over restrictions on transgender youth championed by Republican leaders and widely condemned by medical experts.

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody, starting Monday, will hear testimony and evidence on a law he temporarily blocked last year that prohibits doctors from giving sex-confirming hormone treatments, puberty blockers, or surgery to people under 18. It also prevents doctors from referring patients to other places to receive such care.

If the law goes into effect, doctors who violate the ban could be disqualified or subject to other professional disciplinary actions, and could also be held accountable.


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The families of four transgender youths and two gender-confirmation doctors demand that Moody repeal the law, saying it is unconstitutional because it discriminates against transgender youth, infringes on the rights of parents to make medical decisions for their children, and infringes on the rights of doctors. ‘ the right to freedom of speech. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

“As a parent, I never thought I would have to fight to make sure my daughter gets the medically needed care her doctor says she needs and we know she needs.” said Lacey Jennen, whose 17-year-old daughter received gender-confirmed care.

Arkansas was the first state to enact such a ban on gender-confirmed departures, with Republican lawmakers overriding GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto on the law in 2021. Hutchinson, who signed other restrictions for transgender youth into law, said the ban went too far, depriving those currently receiving it.

Several medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose the ban, and experts say the treatment is safe when used correctly.

But proponents of the law argue that the ban is within the power of the state to regulate medical practice.

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“This is about protecting children,” said Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Nothing in this law prohibits persons over the age of 18 from making this decision. What we do in Arkansas is protect children from life-changing, permanent decisions. “

A similar law was blocked by a federal judge in Alabama, and a Texas judge blocked that state’s efforts to investigate childcare with gender confirmation as child abuse. Children’s hospitals across the country have faced harassment and threats of violence for helping with gender verification.

“This latest wave of anti-trans fever that is now spreading to other states started in Arkansas and it must end in Arkansas,” said Holly Dixon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Arkansas, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the family.

In August, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Moody’s preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the injunction. But the state asked the full Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit to review the case.

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