More than a dozen red states have joined the defense of Arkansas’ law banning transgender surgery and hormones for children after civil liberties groups went to court to overturn the bar on gender dysphoria treatment.
Seventeen states filed a brief with the Eastern District of Arkansas this month, arguing the court should uphold Arkansas’ law, which bans sexual reassignment treatments and procedures for anyone under 18.
“Most cases of gender dysphoria in children resolve naturally with time, and it’s impossible to know ahead of time whose dysphoria will persist into adulthood and whose won’t,” the states argued.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing families of transgender youth, filed a lawsuit in May to upend Arkansas’ Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act. The law bans transgender medical treatment, including puberty blockers and surgery, to anyone under 18 years old.
It was passed in April through an override of the governor’s veto and is set to take effect July 28. The ACLU has asked the court to halt the law from being enforced and the judge scheduled a hearing on the matter for Wednesday.
“If the Health Care Ban goes into effect, it will have devastating consequences for transgender youth in Arkansas. These young people will be unable to obtain medical care that their doctors and parents agree they need and those already receiving care will have their treatment abruptly halted which could have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences,” the ACLU said in court papers.
The group argues that in the weeks following the law’s passage, at least six transgender youth attempted to commit suicide.
But Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge contends the state’s law is responding to international concerns over experimental and life-altering gender transitioning treatment in children.
“Even when those procedures don’t involve invasive surgery, giving children puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones can have irreversible physical consequences — for instance, permanent infertility and destroying the ability of previously healthy sex organs to function,” she wrote in court papers.