Brian Chilson

An injunction to keep a mean-spirited law aimed at transgender children from going into effect still stands, despite Attorney General Leslie Rutledge‘s machinations.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit this week upheld the injunction U.S. District Judge James Moody put in place in the summer of 2021 to keep a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth from taking effect, at least until opponents of the new state law get to finish challenging it in court.

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Arkansas lawmakers passed what they call the SAFE Act (Save Adolescents From Experimentation) during their 2021 session, despite down votes from outnumbered Democrats at the Capitol and even a veto from Republican Governor Hutchinson. The law not only blocks transgender people under the age of 18 from accessing puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone treatments; it forbids doctors from referring young patients elsewhere to secure such treatments.

A doctor and the families of transgender youth in Arkansas are suing the state to get this law tossed out, arguing that it discriminates on the basis of sex and violates doctors’ rights to free speech. The trial started in Little Rock last month, and will resume Nov. 28.

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Holly Dickson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas, issued a statement in response to the decision:

“Families across Arkansas are thankful the 8th Circuit has rejected the state’s effort to enforce this baseless and cruel law. Arkansas should be a safe place to raise all children — transgender youth included — and denying them life-saving health care does the exact opposite. We’re determined to oppose this law until every transgender youth in Arkansas knows they deserve safety, dignity and respect. We are grateful that the court let the lower ruling stand and we are looking forward to completing our final trial on the merits and hopeful for a permanent injunction.”