Aug 26, 2022 - News

Appeals court: Arkansas can't ban trans youth transition treatment

Illustration of columns in the colors of the transgender pride flag.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Arkansas still cannot enforce its ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors.

Driving the news: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a lower court's temporary ban on the state from enforcing a 2021 law, which prohibits physicians from providing hormone therapy or puberty blockers to transgender people under age 18.

  • The three-member court said: "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."

Why it matters: A record number of bills focused on trans youth were introduced across the country in 2021.

Background: Last year, the Arkansas legislature overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of the bill.

  • The bill became law in April 2021, but was temporarily blocked by a federal judge because it's being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appealed that decision and oral arguments were heard by the appeals court in June.

What they're saying: "This is a critical victory for transgender adolescents in Arkansas, their families and their medical providers," Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU's LGBTQ & HIV Project, said in a statement.

  • "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."

The other side: "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," Amanda Priest, spokesperson for Leslie Rutledge, wrote in an email to Axios.

What we're watching: A trial for the lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction is set for the week of Oct. 17.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 — or you can text message or call 988.

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