Judge Strikes Down Arkansas Ban on Transgender Surgery for Minors as Unconstitutional

An Arkansas federal judge struck down the state’s ban on transgender medical interventions for children Tuesday and deemed the law unconstitutional. 

The Arkansas law, which banned physicians from prescribing cross-sex hormones, genital surgeries to children, and puberty blockers, was the country’s first ban of its kind. Numerous other states have followed suit.

District Judge Jay Moody, appointed by former President Barack Obama, permanently blocked the law after having temporarily done so in 2021. 

In his decision for the lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union filed, Judge Moody said the law violated equal protection and due process and cited Bostock v. Clayton County, where Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch read the Civil Rights Act to include individuals who identify as transgender. 

“This decision sends a clear message,” said Holly Dickson, ACLU Arkansas Executive Director, in a press release, “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.”

Additionally, Moody cited “evidence at trial” that showed that the procedures and drugs “improve the health and well-being of many adolescents with gender dysphoria.”

“This is not ‘care’ — it’s activists pushing a political agenda at the expense of our kids and subjecting them to permanent and harmful procedures,” said a spokeswoman for GOP Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Alexa Henning. “Only in the far left’s woke vision of America is it inappropriate to protect children.”

“We will fight this, and the Attorney General plans to appeal Judge Moody’s decision to the Eighth Circuit,” Henning concluded.

The medical evidence behind Moody’s opinion is controversial in the medical community. However, many advocates find the procedures necessary, and a quickly growing number of medical professionals do not, including medical leadership in Norway, Finland, France, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Many European nations have sounded the alarm on transitions for children, finding a lack of evidence that it works as a valid treatment for gender dysphoria while citing significant dangers.

Gov. Huckabee Sanders attempted to reinstate the ban after Moody temporarily blocked it when she took office. The original law was enacted by a veto override from Huckabee Sanders’s predecessor Asa Hutchinson.

Arkansas was the first of at least 20 states who have banned such procedures on children 

The ACLU had brought a lawsuit over the ban on behalf of four transgender children, their families, and two doctors. 

In March, Huckabee Sanders signed legislation that made it easier to sue providers of transgender procedures for children. The law is set to take effect later this summer. 

Transgender 17-year-old Dylan Brandt testified about receiving hormone therapy in the state before the ruling. 

“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 Brandt in a statement released by the ACLU.

Other GOP-led states have since adopted similar laws restricting transgender procedures, with some facing legal challenges.