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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News: Federal judge tosses Ark. transgender youth healthcare ban

In his 80-page order Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge James M. Moody, Jr., permanently enjoined the state of Arkansas from enforcement of House Bill 1570, aimed to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth, finding the law violates the Constitutional rights of transgender youth, their parents, and their medical providers.

Moody held that plaintiffs prevailed on all their claims, finding the ban violated the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clauses and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The decision follows a weeks-long trial in the fall of 2022 and is the first final merits ruling in the country on such a law. LGBTQ legal advocates noted that similar laws in Alabama, Florida and Indiana are currently blocked by preliminary injunctions from federal courts.

The law was challenged by four families of trans youth and two doctors. The law also barred any state funds or insurance coverage for gender-affirming health care for trans people under 18, and it would have allowed private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for people of any age.

Dylan Brandt and his mother
(Photo courtesy of the ACLU of Arkansas)

“I’m so grateful the judge heard my experience of how this health care has changed my life for the better and saw the dangerous impact this law could have on my life and that of countless other transgender people,” said Dylan Brandt, a 17-year-old trans boy from Arkansas. “My mom and I wanted to fight this law not just to protect my health care, but also to ensure that transgender people like me can safely and fully live our truths. Transgender kids across the country are having their own futures threatened by laws like this one, and it’s up to all of us to speak out, fight back, and give them hope.”

“We’re relieved and grateful that the court has ruled in favor of these brave Arkansans and their rights, protecting life-saving care that should be available to all trans youth,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas. “This decision sends a clear message. Fear-mongering and misinformation about this health care do not hold up to scrutiny; it hurts trans youth and must end. Science, medicine, and law are clear: Gender-affirming care is necessary to ensure these young Arkansans can thrive and be healthy.”

“This ruling offers an enormous relief to transgender youth and their families across Arkansas and across the country,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ and HIV Project. “In state after state, transgender people are being forced to fight for our most basic rights, including access to the health care many of us need to live. This victory shows that these laws, when tested by evidence, are indefensible under any standard of constitutional review. We hope that this sends a message to other states about the vulnerability of these laws and the many harms that come from passing them. We’re so thankful for the bravery of our clients and the tireless work of advocates in Arkansas.”

“This is the first final decision in the country in a case challenging a ban on medical care for transgender youth, and it could not be a more resounding victory for the transgender minor plaintiffs and their parents. This important victory will be enormously helpful in the many other pending challenges to similar bans in other states. The ACLU did a superb job in this case, which has now set a precedent that other courts are likely to follow,” Shannon Minter legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Washington Blade Tuesday afternoon.


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