Arkansas’ bigoted, anti-trans healthcare ban to be challenged in court

·3-min read

The ACLU has launched its first legal challenge against the wave of discriminatory anti-trans bills sweeping across America.

The lawsuit was filed in Arkansas, the first state to ban all gender-affirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth.

The bill, HB 1570, was vetoes by Arkansas governor, but this was overruled by the state legislature and is set to come into effect this summer. It has been dubbed the “single-most extreme anti-trans law” ever to pass through state legislature, and the ACLU argues it’s in direct violation of the US Constitution.

“This law would be devastating to trans youth and their families, forcing many to uproot their lives and leave the state to access the gender-affirming care they need,” Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director, said in a statement.

“We’re suing to stop this cruel and unconstitutional law from taking effect and inflicting further harm on these children and their families.”

The nonprofit will be fighting on behalf of four trans youths and their parents, as well as two physicians who provide gender-affirming health care.

One of the plaintiffs, 15-year-old Dylan Brandt, will lose access to the transition care he’s receiving once the ban takes effect – which could be as early as 28 July. Under the law, doctors in the state are also prohibited from referring patients to other providers for treatment.

“This is who I am, and it’s frustrating to know that a place I’ve lived all my life is treating me like they don’t want me here,” Brandt said in a statement.

“Having access to care means I’m able to be myself, and be healthier and more confident – physically and mentally. The thought of having that wrenched away and going back to how I was before is devastating.”

All major medical associations – including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Paediatrics, the Endocrine Society and the American Psychological Association – support gender-affirming care for trans youth.

The ACLU will argue that the ban violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, “because it discriminates on the basis of sex and transgender identity by prohibiting certain medical treatments only for transgender patients and only when the care is ‘related to gender transition.'”

This means the same medications, like hormones and puberty blockers, could freely be prescribed to cisgender minors if they aren’t for transition-related purposes.

It also argues that the bill interferes with the right to parental autonomy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, and that it violates the First Amendment by prohibiting providers from referring patients to other medical professionals.

“Trans young people should not have to fight so hard to live,” said Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s deputy director for transgender justice.

“Even with supportive families, these bills have devastating consequences.

“Our work will not be done until every law that targets transgender people is struck down as unconstitutional and all transgender people are able to live without fearing discrimination and violence because of who we are.”