Arkansas ban on gender-affirming care for minors blocked by U.S. judge

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Tuesday struck down an Arkansas law prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming care including puberty blockers, hormones and surgery to transgender minors, a victory for families that had sued to challenge the law.

“The evidence showed that (gender-affirming care) improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the state undermined the interests it claims to be advancing,” U.S. District Judge James Moody in Little Rock wrote in an order barring the state from enforcing the law.

Moody had last year blocked enforcement of the law in a preliminary order while he considered the case.

“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,” plaintiff Dylan Brandt, a 17-year-old transgender boy, said in a statement issued by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Brandt and his mother.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said in a statement, that he plans to appeal.

“I am disappointed in the decision that prevents our state from protecting our children against dangerous medical experimentation under the moniker of ‘gender transition,'” Griffin said.

Arkansas in 2021 became the first U.S. state to ban gender-affirming care for minors. The Republican legislature passed the ban over the veto of then-Governor Asa Hutchinson, also a Republican.

Since then, a slew of other Republican-led states have passed similar laws. The measures have been challenged in court, and have so far been fully or partially blocked in states including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana and Florida.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Sandra Maler)