Story at a glance

  • A federal court blocked the Arkansas law that prevented physicians from administering specific health care to transgender youth.
  • The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state alleging it infringed on transgender rights.
  • The bill was part of a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ health care bills.

On Wednesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked a recently passed Arkansas law that prohibited doctors and physicians from providing minors and transgender youth with gender-affirming health care. 

The initial law, signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on April 6, was set to go into effect on July 28. The block issued by a federal court comes from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of four transgender youth and their families, along with two doctors.

Hutchinson initially vetoed the bill, but the state legislature overrode the veto and ultimately passed the legislation. 

“If the Health Care Ban goes into effect, it will have devastating consequences for transgender youth in Arkansas,” the lawsuit reads. “These young people will be unable to obtain medical care that their doctors and parents agree they need—and those already receiving care will have their treatment abruptly halted—which could have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences.”


 

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U.S. District Judge Jay Moody handed down the decision to block the ban set to go into effect into Arkansas. 

“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,” said Holly Dickson, the ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “Today’s victory is a testament to the trans youth of Arkansas and their allies, who never gave up the fight to protect access to gender- affirming care and who will continue to defend the right of all trans people to be their authentic selves, free from discrimination.”

Arkansas’s health care ban for transgender youth was one of a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ laws that worked to bar minors from accessing health care to address gender dysmorphia or specific treatments that would assist in gender transitioning.

States like Tennessee and North Carolina also passed comparable laws. Earlier in July, a federal court also blocked the law in Tennessee that would require businesses to post a sign if they let transgender customers use bathrooms that match their gender identity. 

“Our work in Arkansas and around the country is far from over — including with this law,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU's LGBTQ & HIV Project.


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Published on Jul 21, 2021