Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Ban on Gender-Transition Surgery for Minors

A participant lies on a giant Transgender Pride Flag during the Equality March, organized by the LGBT community in Kiev, Ukraine June 23, 2019. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

A federal judge temporarily blocked an Arkansas law that would ban gender-transition surgery for minors, in a ruling on Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued to scrap the law in May on behalf of four transgender youths and two doctors who provide gender-transition surgeries. The law, initially set to take effect on July 28, would revoke the medical licenses of doctors who administer gender-transition surgery or puberty blockers to minors.

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody of Little Rock granted a temporary injunction while the suit makes its way through the courts.

“To pull this care midstream from these patients, or minors, would cause irreparable harm,” Moody said, in comments reported by the Associated Press.

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The ACLU hailed the decision.

“This ruling sends a clear message to states across the country that gender affirming care is life-saving care, and we won’t let politicians in Arkansas—or anywhere else—take it away,” Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement.

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) commented that the decision went “against the will” of Arkansas residents.

“Our legislature made the reasonable decision to protect minors from dangerous and life-altering drugs, hormones, and surgeries,” Cotton said in a statement. “Against the will of Arkansans, liberal activists have now put those children back in harm’s way.”

After the Arkansas legislature passed the law earlier this year, Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, vetoed the bill. The legislature subsequently overrode Hutchinson’s veto in early April.

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