LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Court proceedings continued Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging the State’s recent decision to ban gender-affirming care for minors in Arkansas.

The federal bench trial addresses Act 626 passed in Mar. of 2021. Four transgender youths and their doctors say the law violates constitutional due process and free speech protections.

Supporters of the act say it is needed to protect children from life-altering procedures when they are too young to make such decisions.

Tuesday’s testimony began with Dr. Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

During his testimony, Regnerus referenced several articles that opposed gender-affirming care, claiming that new social norms have “suppressed” those authors with differing opinions.

Regnerus further described that major medical associations have been pressured by society to support gender-affirming care.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys objected several times during Regnerus’ testimony, claiming the professor did not have expertise in transgender care.

The morning’s testimony also caused a lot of confusion for Judge James Moody who questioned the sociologist’s expert role in the case, as the doctor referred to articles by other publications.

“I’m not sure what we’re doing here or what I am supposed to take away from this,” Moody said. “If the point you are trying to make is that people oppose it, I got it.”

In cross-examination, ACLU attorneys questioned Regnerus’ attendance at an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) conference before the pandemic.

According to the group’s website, the ADF is a legal organization “committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.”

Attorneys questioned Regnerus about topics discussed at the meeting, including the need for people to testify against gender-affirming care.

Regnerus said he had “only the vaguest recollection” of the meeting but that he would “not be surprised if ADF asked that.”

Later in the morning, the State called Dr. Patrick Lappert to the stand.

Lappert is a plastic surgeon and mentioned before the bulk of questioning that he has not performed any gender-affirming surgeries.

Lappert began his testimony by describing the difference between reconstructive plastic surgery and aesthetic plastic surgery.

Reconstructive surgery, according to Lappert, is done mostly to repair something that has been lost while aesthetic surgery is purely cosmetic.

While some publications describe gender-affirming surgery as reconstructive, Lappert said he believes it is better categorized as aesthetic.

As questions continued, Lappert discussed some of the qualifications for plastic surgery in his practice. He says a red flag when meeting with potential patients is Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is described as a mental health condition in which a person can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects related to their body.

Lappert said performing surgery on people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder would be a “disservice to the patient.”

“There is a period of happiness but then the excitement wears away,” Lappert said. “The patient is then left with the same sorrow and a bill for plastic surgery.”

Lappert went on to describe other criteria he uses when deciding whether to perform aesthetic surgery on a patient. He considers things like the mental state, overall health, age and if he can even give what the patient wants when they ask for surgery.

Lappert said he rarely performs surgery on minors.

“A breast augmentation in a 15-year-old girl is out of the question,” Lappert said. “For a parent to give that consent, for that, I would have a problem.”

Dr. Lappert said he would put this situation in the same category as a gender-affirming surgery for a patient who is a minor. He added most minors cannot fully understand the risks and benefits of the surgery and therefore cannot properly consent.

During cross-examination, ACLU attorneys mentioned and confirmed that Lappert also attended the conference hosted by ADF.

Testimony will resume the case on Wednesday at 9 a.m.