Arkansas: federal judge strikes down law banning gender reassignment treatments for minors

Jay Moody called the rule - enacted in 2021 - unconstitutional and noted that sex reassignment procedures "improve the mental health and well-being of patients."

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody overturned through a permanent injunction, Arkansas' law prohibiting health care professionals from performing surgery or prescribing gender reassignment treatment for minors.

In a ruling of more than 70 pages, Moody called unconstitutional the first law enacted in the country (in 2021) that prevented minors under the age of 18 from undergoing sex reassignment procedures.

As reported by AP, in the order, the judge determined that "the ban violated the due process and protection rights of transgender youth and families." In addition, he asserted that the rule also violated First Amendment rights:

Instead of protecting children or safeguarding medical ethics, evidence showed that the prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and, that by prohibiting it, the state undermines the interests it claims to promote.

The court battle in Arkansas

In April 2021, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to prevent minors from being able to receive medical sex change treatments (hormone therapies and surgeries). The congressmen began a legal battle when the proposal -previously approved by Congress- was vetoed by then Governor Asa Hutchinson, who considered the text "out of order."

Subsequently, lawmakers overrode Hutchinson's veto, which concluded with the rule passing. This law was challenged in a Federal Court in 2023, thus blocking its implementation on a temporary basis. Moody's veto permanently overrides this 2021 law (passed by Hutchinson).

The law will be appealed again in court

Despite this veto by Moody, current Govenor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, enacted another law in March this year that will see healthcare providers serve up to 15 years in prison if they perform a gender transition procedure on a minor under the age of 18. The rule - which makes it easier for health professionals to be sued -is intended to effectively prevent transgender treatments on minors.  However, it will be the end of this summer before it comes into effect.

Huckabee Sanders was among the first to criticize Judge Moody's order and added that state Attorney General, Tim Griffin, plans to appeal the decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals:

This is not "care," it is activists pushing a political agenda at the expense of our children and subjecting them to permanent and harmful procedures. Only in the woke view of America's far left is it inappropriate to protect children. We will fight this and the Attorney General plans to appeal Judge Moody's decision to the Eighth Circuit.

In the U.S., there are already at least 19 states that have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender transitions in minors. Among them: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.