LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas, USA ( Associated Press) – A US federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Arkansas cannot enforce its ban on transgender children receiving gender-affirming medical treatment.
A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s decision temporarily blocking the state from implementing the 2021 law. A trial by the same judge is set for October to determine whether to permanently block the law.
Arkansas was the first state to ban doctors providing hormone treatment, puberty blocker, or gender-affirming surgery to a person under the age of 18 or from referring them to other providers for treatment. There is no doctor in the state who performs gender confirmation surgery on minors.
“Since the sex of the minor at birth determines whether the minor may receive certain types of medical care under the law, Law 626 discriminates on the basis of gender,” the court ruled.
The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law on behalf of four transgender minors and their families, as well as two doctors who provide gender-affirming treatment.
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed the law last year, but lawmakers overturned her veto and turned the law into law.
Several medical groups, including the American Medical Association, oppose the ban, saying the treatments are safe if administered properly. The Justice Department says the ban is unconstitutional.
Arkansas argues that the ban falls under the state’s authority to regulate medical practices. An ACLU attorney told the appeals panel in June that reinstating the ban would create uncertainty for families across the state.
Hutchinson vetoed the ban after calls from pediatricians, social workers and parents of transgender minors, who said the move would harm a community already at risk of depression and suicide.