Supporters, opponents of Arkansas trans youth treatment ban sound off after injunction

State News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Federal Judge James Moody granted an injunction Wednesday and denied the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit against Act 626, the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act (SAFE Act).

ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio said it felt like a historic day.  He said many are relieved Judge Moody ruled in their favor and saw how this law violates the Constitution no matter what standard of applying the law the judge used.

“Under any standard, even the most deferential standard, even affording the government all the deference in the world they still failed to meet their burden and we were able to show that these laws are irrational,” Strangio explained.

Joanna Brandt is the mother of a transgendered son, Dylan, and said this issue should not have even been where it is now had the Legislature listened to people like her and her son while this law was being debated on.

“This bill ignores what all major medical professionals have said about the dangers of trans kids forced to live in a body that does not match their gender identity.  The legislators have ignored medical professionals and what parents of kids with real lived experience have said,” she said.

Brandt said she is thrilled at the decision and is grateful for today, but she said the fight for this bill to be stopped is not over.

Strangio said the ACLU is prepared for any type of appeal and will fight this issue.

“And we’re going to fight this law as far and as long as we need to make sure that no young person has to worry about losing their medical care,” he said.

One of the main sponsors of the bill, Rep. Robin Lundstrum issued a statement:

“While disappointing, this injunction is not the last word on this matter. The battle to protect children from chemical and surgical castration which has irreversible consequences for minors – who cannot possibly understand the long-term effects – will have a full hearing in court. I’m confident that when the facts come out, all will clearly see the need to protect children from the harms associated with these procedures.  I am grateful that the Attorney General has already indicated that she will appeal this ruling.“

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also saying she will appeal the matter, issuing a statement:

“This evidence-based law was created because we cannot allow children as young as 9 years old to receive experimental procedures that have irreversible, physical consequences.  I will aggressively defend Arkansas’s law which strongly limits permanent, life-altering sex changes to adolescents. I will not sit idly by while radical groups such as the ACLU use our children as pawns for their own social agenda. As the Attorney General of Arkansas, I will be appealing today’s decision.”

This ruling also gained national attention as the VP of Advocacy and Government Affairs for the Trevor Project Sam Brinton also released a statement saying:

“This is a huge victory for transgender and nonbinary youth in Arkansas. Thank you to our friends at the ACLU and to all the brave families and doctors involved in this case. Gender-affirming medical care is associated with positive mental health outcomes and reduced suicide risk. All trans youth deserve access to this best-practice care regardless of where they live.”

Jerry Cox with Family Council also released a statement on Judge Moody’s ruling:

“This is a very bad ruling. Children should not be subjected to sex-reassignment procedures. Researchers do not know the long-term effects puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones can have on kids. That is why many experts agree that giving puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children is experimental, at best. Judge Moody’s decision fails to protect the children of Arkansas. The SAFE Act is commonsense legislation that protects children. It received overwhelming support from the Arkansas Legislature, and most voters in Arkansas support the law, according to polling by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College. Arkansans understand this is a good law. Our federal courts should as well.”

Cox believes Judge Moody’s decision will be overturned on appeal.

“Arkansas’ SAFE Act is a good law that protects children. We believe higher courts will recognize that fact and uphold this good law as the case is appealed,” he added.

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