Story at a glance
- More than 50 influential transgender individuals on Wednesday filed an amicus brief supporting the ACLU’s lawsuit against an Arkansas law that would make providing or recommending gender-affirming care to minors illegal.
- Actor Elliot Page and filmmaker Lilly Wachowski detailed their experiences of gender euphoria following their transitions.
- Act 626 was set to take effect in July, but was blocked by a federal judge pending the ACLU lawsuit.
More than 50 prominent transgender figures filed an amicus brief Wednesday supporting an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit to overturn an Arkansas law restricting access to gender-affirming health care for trans and nonbinary youth.
Signed by 58 influential transgender individuals, including Elliot Page, Lilly Wachowski, and Jazz Jennings, the 31-page brief filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund supports the ACLU’s lawsuit against a first-of-its kind law prohibiting doctors in Arkansas from providing gender-affirming care or resources.
Arkansas’ Act 626, also known as the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act, was first introduced in February. Calling it a “vast government overreach,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) vetoed the bill in April – a decision the state legislature quickly overrode.
In July, just days before the ban was set to take effect, a federal judge issued a ruling blocking its enforcement, pending the outcome of the ACLU lawsuit, which asserts Act 626 violates the Constitution.
In the brief filed Wednesday, signatories argued that denying trans children access to gender-affirming care would be akin to stripping them of a joyful childhood. In a recent report published by the Trevor Project, a LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention group, gender-affirming care was linked to a significantly reduced risk of depression and suicide in trans and nonbinary youth.
“I never looked masculine,” Jennings, 21, who began gender-affirming treatment when she started puberty, said in the brief. “I developed alongside my peers as a female teenager. I was able to lead a happy childhood because I was able to live as the girl I knew I was.”
Others, like Wachowski, 54, and Page, 34, in the filing detailed their experiences of gender euphoria – the inverse of gender dysphoria – after receiving gender-affirming treatment.
“When I started living as my true self, I would sometimes catch short sharp glimpses of my reflection in windows and cars as I’d walk along or ride my bike,” Wachowski said. “It would make my heart skip a beat. The silhouette of my shadow on the ground cast by the afternoon sun was exhilarating and life affirming.”
“I couldn’t believe the amount of energy I had, ideas, how my imagination flourished, because the constant discomfort and pain around that aspect of my body was gone,” Page said in the brief.
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