A pink, white, and blue transgender flag flying with sky behind it.

Federal Court Blocks Arkansas’ Trans Youth Healthcare Ban, Calling Out Fake ‘Experts’ in the Process

You might not believe me, but we just got some good news on the trans rights front out of Arkansas of all places. And if that’s possible in Arkansas in 2023, maybe things could start looking up elsewhere too. You see, Arkansas was the first state in the nation to attempt one of these terrifying, totalitarian-style bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. And now, as of Tuesday, a federal judge has become the first in the nation to block this totally hateful, bullshit law permanently.

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According to the verdict handed down by U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr., the abhorrent law violated multiple constitutional rights of the trans youth, as well as their guardians and even their doctors. In other words, this aggression will not stand, man.

The ruling also cites the troubling lack of expertise many “experts” arguing for the law’s passing possessed. The court found that three of the witnesses for the state had no experience actually providing trans care to teens and had been recruited as witnesses via a Christian anti-trans group. 

As Judge Moody writes in the ruling, “While there is nothing nefarious about an organization recruiting witnesses to testify for their cause, it is clear from listening to the testimony that Professor Mark Regnerus, Dr. Paul Hruz, and Dr. [Patrick] Lappert were testifying more from a religious doctrinal standpoint rather than that required of experts.”

The Republican-controlled legislature in Arkansas first passed the bill back in April of 2021. And directly after, the then-governor, Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, actually vetoed it, saying it would overstep the government’s role in private family medical decisions. And that’s when you know how scary a conservative law is–when a Republican governor wants to veto it. However, the mega-conservative Arkansas legislature had no problem overriding his efforts. A few months after, Judge Moody placed a temporary restraining order on the law, and it entered the court system. 

At least 17 states besides Arkansas have introduced similar legislation. Some states have passed the laws, but similar restraining orders have been put into place. Transgender rights advocates are buoyed by this win in Arkansas, an extremely conservative state, with the hope that similar laws around the country may be thrown out because of the precedence that the gender-affirming care bans violate U.S. constitutional rights. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the lawsuit to federal court on behalf of a small group of trans teens and medical providers. One of the plaintiffs, Dylan Brandt, a 17-year-old trans teen, told ABC News, “I’m so grateful the judge heard my experience of how this health care has changed my life for the better and saw the dangerous impact this law could have on my life and that of countless other transgender people.”

(featured image: Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images)


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Cammy Pedroja
Author and independent journalist since 2015. Frequent contributor of news and commentary on social justice, politics, culture, and lifestyle to publications including The Mary Sue, Newsweek, Business Insider, Slate, Women, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Lover of forests, poetry, books, champagne, and trashy TV.