Court Upholds Block of Arkansas’s Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth

A panel of three judges ruled on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by a lower court last spring, preventing Arkansas from imposing a ban on gender-affirming care.

The ruling means that an injunction on the law will remain in placeTransgender children can still receive gender-affirming care from doctors in the state. Such care generally includes therapy and, in some cases, the use of safe, reversible medication like puberty blockers — the prescription of which the state had attempted to criminalize.

The law also prohibits certain medications from being used that are rarely, if ever, used in care for transgender children, and made it illegal to perform gender-affirming surgery on children in Arkansas — despite the fact that medical providers in the state never offered such surgeries to people under the age of 18.

The law was passed in 2021, but was initially vetoed first by the Republican governor. Asa Hutchinson, however, the GOP-controlled state legislature His veto was overriddenSoon after. Federal Judge James M. Moody Jr. Injunction issued July 2021, blocking the law’s enforcement until it could be further litigated. (Due to the ongoing challenges to Moody’s ruling, that court hearing won’t take place until October at the earliest.)

The appellate court ruled on Thursday to uphold Moody’s injunction.

“Because the minor’s sex at birth determines whether or not the minor can receive certain types of medical care under the law, Act 626 discriminates on the basis of sex,” the court said in its ruling.

Transgender activists were happy with the ruling, Chase Strangio from ACLU being one of them.

“The Eighth Circuit was abundantly clear that the state’s ban on care does not advance any important governmental interest and the state’s defense of the law is lacking in legal or evidentiary support,” Strangio said. “The state has no business categorically singling out this care for prohibition.”

Arkansas was the first U.S. State to ban gender affirming care for minors. Since then, 14 additional states have instituted similar bans or are currently considering doing so. Medical associations have also noted that there is widespread medical consensus against such bans. for many trans youth, access to gender-affirming careIt is life-saving.

“It is well documented that TGNB [transgender or nonbinary] adolescents and young adults experience anxiety and depression, as well as suicidal ideation, at a much higher rate than their cisgender peers…In contrast, numerous research studies have found that gender-affirming care leads to improved mental health among TGNB youth,” wrote Kareen M. Matouk and Melina WaldResearchers at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry earlier this year.