Arkansas to ‘Fight’ Ruling Against Ban on Gender Transition Procedures for Minors

Arkansas to ‘Fight’ Ruling Against Ban on Gender Transition Procedures for Minors
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., on May 2, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Arkansas will “fight” a federal judge’s ruling that struck down the state’s ban on gender transition procedures for minors.

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, issued a permanent injunction against the Arkansas law on Tuesday, declaring the state’s ban on gender transition procedures unconstitutional.

The procedures, also known as “gender-affirming care,” include cross-sex hormone therapies, puberty blockers, and irreversible surgeries to remove sex organs. Arkansas’s law aimed to prohibit doctors from providing such treatments to anyone under the age of 18.

Arkansas’s Republican governor expressed her view that the state’s ban was about protecting children and declared her intention to challenge the permanent injunction.

“This is not ‘care’—it’s activists pushing a political agenda at the expense of our kids and subjecting them to permanent and harmful procedures,” Sanders wrote on Twitter following the ruling.

“Only in the far-Left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children. We will fight this and the Attorney General plans to appeal Judge Moody’s decision to the Eighth Circuit.”

The state will appeal Moody’s ruling to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin argued that gender transition procedures are “experimentation,” which Moody noted in his ruling was not aligned with decades of clinical experience and scientific research. However, Griffin disputed the judge’s ruling in a statement, arguing that the opposite is true.

“I am disappointed in the decision that prevents our state from protecting our children against dangerous medical experimentation under the moniker of ‘gender transition,'” Griffin said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, Judge Moody misses what is widely understood across the United States and in the United Kingdom and European countries: There is no scientific evidence that any child will benefit from these procedures, while the consequences are harmful and often permanent. I will continue fighting as long as it takes to stop providers from sterilizing children.”

Moody’s ruling is the only one to overturn measures that have similarly been enacted in around 19 Republican-led states to ban gender transition procedures for minors, most of which have faced legal challenges.

He determined that the ban violated the due process and equal protection rights of transgender youth and families. He also ruled that the law infringed upon the First Amendment rights of medical providers.

Moody’s ruling aligned with comments made by judges in other cases that temporarily halted similar bans in Alabama and Indiana.

“Rather than protecting children or safeguarding medical ethics, the evidence showed that the prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the state undermined the interests it claims to be advancing,” Moody wrote in his ruling.

The ban was first enacted in 2021 by the state’s GOP-led legislature after overriding a veto by former Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who did not support the ban. He believed the ban would deprive minors already undergoing certain treatments.

The ruling impacts only the Arkansas ban, but may have implications for similar prohibitions in other states.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which believes gender transition procedures are necessary care for minors, challenged the law on behalf of four transgender youth and their families, as well as two doctors. A spokesperson for the organization said the ruling “sends a clear message.”

Louisiana lawmakers are progressing with a similar ban on gender transition procedures for minors, which will likely withstand a veto by the state’s Democratic governor who has stated his intention to do so. North Carolina and Ohio have similar measures being considered in their legislatures.

Florida’s ban goes a step further and includes prohibiting the use of state funds for adults seeking gender transition procedures. A federal judge has prevented Florida from enforcing its ban on three children who have challenged the law.

Additionally, three other states enacted restrictions through regulations or administrative orders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.