Nov 30, 2022 - Politics

Defense takes turn in federal transgender youth trial in Arkansas

Illustration of columns in the colors of the transgender pride flag.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A trial to decide the fate of Arkansas' 2021 law banning gender-affirming medical care for minors resumed Monday.

  • At issue is whether to uphold or permanently block a law Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to sign.

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.

Reality check: Gender-affirming care is widely supported as appropriate and medically necessary by major health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The latest: After a monthlong recess spurred by scheduling conflicts, testimony for those who oppose gender-affirming care dominated the bench trial Monday and Tuesday.

Context: The trial is between the state's attorney general's office and four Arkansas families represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Details: Ohio psychiatrist Stephen Levine said Monday that psychotherapy should be the primary treatment for gender dysphoria, Arkansas Advocate reported. He claimed doctors are too quick to prescribe hormones to minors.

Yes, and: On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. didn't see immediate relevance of the testimony from Mark Regnerus, a University of Texas sociologist, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

  • Regnerus claimed he's observed a bias toward affirmation rather than treatment of underlying mental or emotional conditions among providers treating transgender patients, the paper reported.

What they're saying: "All I'm hearing is some people are forming opinions which are causing debate," Moody said, the Democrat-Gazette reported.

What's next: A half day of testimony is expected Wednesday and at least a half day Thursday.

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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