LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a federal judge to strike down a new Arkansas law that made the state the first to ban gender-confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth.
The ACLU on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging the new prohibition that’s set to take effect on July 28.
The law prohibits doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.
The Republican Legislature last month enacted the ban, overriding a veto by GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
In a statement, the ACLU said the suit is the first of a number of legal challenges to new laws that the group claims targets the transgender population, especially transgender youth.
“This law would be devastating to trans youth and their families, forcing many to uproot their lives and leave the state to access the gender-affirming care they need,” ACLU of Arkansas executive director Holly Dickson said. “Gender-affirming care is life-saving care for our clients, and they’re terrified of what will happen if this law is allowed to take effect.
The measure was one of several that were either passed by the state General Assembly or filed by lawmakers during the latest legislative session that critics say target the LGBTQ+ community.
The governor signed one bill into law that bans transgender females from competing in women’s school sports at all levels, including collegiate sports.
Another bill allowing health care workers to refuse to perform certain services due to “conscience-based objections” also became state law.
Lawmakers also filed a bill that would direct faculty and staff in Arkansas schools to refer to students with the names and genders assigned at birth, even if the students had transitioned.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement on the lawsuit, saying she would “aggressively defend Arkansas’s law” in this case.
“I will aggressively defend Arkansas’s law which strongly limits permanent, life-altering sex changes to adolescents,” Rutledge said in the statement. “I won’t sit idly by while radical groups such as the ACLU use our children as pawns for their own social agenda.”