Appeals court allows transgender care to continue in Arkansas

Federal panel keeps temporary blockage of state’s transgender care ban

By: - August 25, 2022 12:26 pm

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A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld an injunction blocking Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender children.

The three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals kept in place U.S. District Judge James Moody’s order that temporarily blocked Arkansas authorities from enforcing Act 626, which was enacted in 2021 after the Arkansas Legislature overrode a veto of the law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The law — the first of its kind in the U.S. — banned physicians from providing “gender transition” treatments, like puberty blockers and sex reassignment surgeries.

 

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The law was challenged in U.S. district court in Arkansas by several transgender minors, their parents and a pair of doctors who provide such care.

The 8th Circuit panel agreed transgender children would suffer irreparable harm if the law took effect.

“Minor Plaintiffs would be denied access to hormone treatment (including needing to stop treatment already underway), undergo endogenous puberty—a process that cannot be reversed—and suffer heightened gender dysphoria,” the ruling states.

The appellate panel also agreed with Moody that the law likely discriminated against Arkansans on the basis of sex. For instance, a minor born as a male could seek testosterone treatments or have breast tissue surgically removed while a person born as a female could not, the court opined.

“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 panel wrote.

Moody has scheduled an October trial to determine whether to permanently block the law.

In passing the ban on certain transgender care for children, Republican state lawmakers argued that it’s the state’s responsibility to regulate medical care and that the ban would protect vulnerable children who are being subjected to irreversible, risky treatments.

Medical groups, including the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, lobbied against the law, saying that the outlawed treatments are safe and that medical decisions should remain in the hands of doctors and their patients.

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Hunter Field
Hunter Field

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. He spent the better part of the last decade investigating and reporting on Arkansas government and politics. For three years, he covered education policy, medical marijuana and the Arkansas General Assembly as part of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Capitol Bureau. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. Hunter got his start in journalism covering sports for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.

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