Arkansas law that would ban doctors from providing gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth blocked by a federal judge

Trans protest
A protest to support trans people in 2017 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A federal judge blocked a new anti-trans law in Arkansas that would ban doctors from providing young patients with gender-affirming healthcare.

Arkansas passed HB 1570 on April 6 and became the first US state to ban life saving care like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and puberty blockers for trans minors. The law was passed after Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the bill was overturned by the state senate.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state of Arkansas representing four trans youth, their families, and two physicians. Advocates say the consequences of passing it would have been life-threatening for trans youth in the state.

“The threat of harm to plaintiffs is concrete, imminent, and devastating, and far outweighs any conceivable cost to the state of maintaining the status quo while this case proceeds,” the filings read.

According to the ACLU, US District Judge Jay Moody barred the law, which would have taken effect on July 28.

ACLU Attorney Chase Strangio announced the victory for trans advocates, tweeting “Judge has enjoined Arkansas’s health care ban from the bench!”

This is the second anti-trans piece of legislation that was blocked this month by lawsuits filed by the ACLU.

Advocates say gender-affirming care is lifesaving

Dr. Alann Weissman-Ward, Medical Director for Plume, previously told Insider supporters of trans medical bans for minors deeply misunderstand the science behind gender-affirming care.

Puberty blockers, the most commonly prescribed medical intervention for trans youth, pause puberty and can be reversed at any time. Interventions with more permanent effects such as HRT don’t get prescribed until a teen turns 15 or so.

According to Weissman-Ward, gender-affirming surgery rarely gets approved for anyone under the age of 18.

Advocates and physicians agree that trans medical bans like Arkansas’ are dangerous for transgender youth because they ban necessary care.

Studies have found the earlier trans youth have access to gender-affirming care like puberty blockers and HRT, the less likely they are to have anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations later in life.

“Gender-affirming medical care is associated with positive mental health outcomes and reduced suicide risk. All trans youth deserve access to this best-practice care regardless of where they live,” Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, said in a statement.

“This is a huge victory for transgender and nonbinary youth in Arkansas.”

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.