Oct 25, 2022 - News

Arkansas' transgender youth trial to resume in November

Illustration of a pattern of gavels.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

After a week of testimony, a federal bench trial between the Arkansas attorney general's office and four families represented by the ACLU is on hold until Nov. 28.

  • The issue is whether to uphold or permanently block the state's 2021 law that banned gender-affirming medical care for minors.

Why it matters: The inability to access gender-affirming care has been linked to worse mental health outcomes for transgender youth, including thoughts of suicide and substance use, caused by gender dysphoria.

Catch up quick: Last week, U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. told plaintiffs and defendants that only one week had been scheduled for the trial. Both thought testimony would be heard this week with some witnesses planning to travel to Little Rock.

  • Testimony last week included the families of transgender minors and doctors who backed findings related to mental health and gender dysphoria.
  • Dylan Brandt, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Greenwood, described his experiences and told the court, "My outside finally matches the way I feel on my inside."

State of play: The outcome of the trial won't be known until after the midterm elections. A record number of bills targeting trans youth were introduced across the country in 2021, setting the stage for conflict.

  • One camp sees the issue as the state controlling what people are permitted to do in and with their own families.
  • Another sees it as a moral issue to protect children.

What's next: When the trial resumes, the state is expected to present expert witnesses to support the law.

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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