Appeals Court Strikes Down Arkansas Ban On Transgender Treatment For Minors

The ongoing debate over whether children should be allowed to receive surgeries and hormone treatment designed to treat gender dysphoria has played out in state legislatures across the country. In Arkansas, for example, lawmakers approved a ban in March 2021 that would outlaw certain medical procedures on minors statewide.

This week, however, a federal appeals court handed down a ruling that blocked that ban from going into effect.

Last month, a district court issued a temporary injunction, citing concerns that the state law could cause “irreparable harm” to children who identify as transgender and noting that the legislation could be unconstitutional. Now that the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals has weighed in by siding with the district court’s decision, it will be up to a district judge to consider whether the law should be struck down completely.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which launched the lawsuit that led to these federal rulings, celebrated the latest decision, as noted in a statement by Executive Director Holly Dickson.

She asserted that the appeals court “affirmed that no child should be denied medical care they need” and expressed satisfaction on behalf of the “trans youth” living in the state.

“Research shows that denying gender-affirming care to transgender youth contributes to depression, isolation, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide,” Dickson wrote.

Of course, the Arkansas law only prohibited serious medical treatments including the administration of puberty blockers, hormone replacement, and surgeries. A growing number of individuals who underwent these procedures as teens have since come to regret the decisions they made as minors or young adults.

Furthermore, one of the few long-term studies of the impact that gender transition has on mental health shows that individuals who receive sex-change surgeries are 20 times more likely to commit suicide within the next 10 to 15 years than the general population.

A spokesperson for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge confirmed that her office would continue fighting in court to preserve the state law.

As Amanda Priest explained: “The Attorney General is extremely disappointed in today’s dangerously wrong decision by the three-judge panel and plans to seek review by the full Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.”