A federal district court judge in Little Rock has struck down and permanently enforced an Arkansas law banning gender-affirming assistance for transgender youth according to an ACLU news release.
In its judgment today (Tuesday 20 June) in Brandt et al vs Rutledge et alUS District Judge James M. Moody Jr. found that the law violates the constitutional rights of transgender youth, their parents and their health care providers, held that the plaintiffs prevailed on all of their claims, and held that the ban violated the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clauses, and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The decision follows a weeks-long trial in the fall of 2022 and is the first final ruling on the merits in the country on such a law.
The Texas Legislature enacted and Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a similar law just last month, and even trans advocates have already pledged to challenge the Texas law.
The Arkansas Legislature passed the measure called the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act in March 2021 after both the state House and Senate voted by wide margins to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto. The ACLU filed the lawsuit challenging it the following month, and three months later, a week before the law was due to take effect, Moody’s issued a temporary injunction barring its enforcement while the matter was in court.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Moody’s injunction in August of 2021.
Dylan Brandt, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Arkansas who, with his mother, was among those who filed the lawsuit, said today he was so grateful the judge heard my experience of how this health care has changed life. my life for the better and have seen the dangerous impact this law could have on my life and the lives of countless other transgender people.
My mother and I wanted to fight this law not only to protect my health care, but also to ensure that transgender people like me can safely and fully live our truths. Transgender children across the country are having their future threatened by laws like this, and it’s up to all of us to speak up, react and give them hope, Brandt continued.
Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, added, “We are relieved and grateful that the court has ruled in favor of these brave Arkansas residents and their rights by protecting the life-saving care that should be available to all.” trans youth”.
This decision sends a clear message, Dickson said. The scaremongering and misinformation about this health care does not stand up to scrutiny; it hurts trans youth and it has to stop. Science, medicine, and the law are clear: Gender-affirming care is needed to ensure these young Arkansans can thrive and be healthy.
And Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV project, concluded, This ruling provides tremendous relief for transgender youth and their families throughout Arkansas and across the country. In state after state, transgender people are forced to fight for our most basic rights, including access to the health care so many of us need to live. This victory shows that these laws, when tested with evidence, are indefensible under any standard of constitutional review. Hopefully this sends a message to other states about the vulnerability of these laws and the many harms that come with passing them.
We are so grateful for the courage of our clients and the tireless work of attorneys in Arkansas.
The law was challenged by four families of young transgender people and two doctors. The law also banned any state funding or gender-affirming health care insurance coverage for transgender people under age 18, and would have allowed private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming health care for transgender people. people of any age.
Similar laws in Alabama, Florida and Indiana are blocked by preliminary injunctions from federal courts. So far in 2023, the ACLU and its national affiliate network have defied seven new laws similar to the Arkansas ban.
The lawsuit in Arkansas was filed by the ACLU Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelovi LGBTQ & HIV Project, the ACLU of Arkansas and the law firms of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Gill Ragon Owen and Walas Law Firm.
For more information on Brandt see Rutledge, click Here.
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