The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday sued Arkansas to block a new law that bans doctors in the state from providing gender reassignment surgeries and other treatments for transgender youth.
The ACLU said in its suit that the law will have “devastating consequences” for transgender youth in Arkansas, setting up the first challenge to a highly controversial law that the state legislature muscled through by overriding a veto by GOP Gov. Asa HutchinsonAsa HutchinsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden's .5 trillion plan will likely have to shrink Sunday shows - Manchin says he won't vote for .5 trillion bill GOP governor: Biden's vaccine mandate 'increases the division' MORE.
“The ACLU is proud to represent them,” the civil rights group said in a statement, referencing the four transgender adolescents and their families and the two doctors it is representing. “Because of the shocking nature of the harms this law would impose, this is the first lawsuit we are filing against any of the anti-trans laws that state legislatures passed this year — and more will be coming soon.”
“Transgender children in crisis shouldn’t have to turn to the courts to ensure that they can get the health care that their doctors and parents agree they need. But that’s the reality that anti-LGBTQ forces have created as part of their campaign of attacks on transgender youth.”
The Arkansas law says that young people will not be able to obtain puberty blockers, which delays the start of puberty, as well as cross-hormone therapy, which helps transgender people to adjust their physical appearance to be more in line with their gender identities.
The law could go into effect later this summer.
The ACLU’s lawsuit says the prohibition violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Constitution's 14th Amendment as well as the First Amendment.
The suit goes on to claim that the law prevents needed health care and strips families of the power to make their own decisions about a youth’s treatment.
Young people in Arkansas “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,” the lawsuit reads.
“The Health Care Ban barges into Arkansas families' living rooms and strips Arkansas parents of the right to provide medical care for their children,” it adds.
The law in Arkansas is just one of several being passed in GOP-controlled states that target transgender youth, with many also looking to bar children who identify as girls but were assigned male at birth from participating in girls’ sports.