Judge strikes down gender-affirming care ban in Arkansas


(ARKANSAS) — A federal district court judge on Tuesday struck down an Arkansas law that banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

The judge said the law violates the constitutional rights of transgender youth, their parents and their medical providers.

“I’m so grateful 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 that of countless other transgender people,” Dylan Brandt, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Arkansas and plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement.

He continued, “Transgender kids across the country are having their own futures threatened by laws like this one, and it’s up to all of us to speak out, fight back, and give them hope.”

At least 17 other states have passed similar laws, several of which are under preliminary injunctions.

The Arkansas law also barred state funds and insurance coverage for gender-affirming care and allowed private insurers to refuse to cover such care for people of any age.

The law was vetoed by then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, citing the potentially dangerous consequences for trans youth in the state and calling it “a vast government overreach” and “a product of the cultural war in America.” His veto was overturned by state lawmakers.

Republicans who backed the bill said they want young people to wait until they are older to begin gender-affirming care.

National medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, argue that gender-affirming care is safe, effective, beneficial and medically necessary.

Transgender youth are more likely to experience anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation and attempts, health experts say. Gender-affirming hormone therapy has been proven to improve the mental health of transgender youth, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The restrictions were challenged in a lawsuit backed by four families of transgender youth, two doctors, the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firms of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Gill Ragon Owen and the Walas Law Firm.

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