ACLU pleased with appeals court decision on transgender healthcare
The American Civil Liberties Union is preparing for a lawsuit to go to trial challenging an Arkansas law banning gender-affirming healthcare for children. The suit was filed on behalf of the families of four transgender children and two doctors.
Last week, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s decision blocking the law from going into effect until the lawsuit could be heard. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is asking the full 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the decision.
Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, says she is confident they will prevail at trial.
“The ruling for Arkansas means great relief. This law will continue to not go into effect,” she said in an interview. “These young people will still be able to access care as informed by themselves, their parents and their medical providers.”
The law would have prohibited doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone younger than 18. No doctors in Arkansas were performing genital surgery on minors before or after the law went into effect, Dickson said.
Dr. Michele Hutchinson, a pediatric endocrinologist and the former head and founder of the gender services program at Arkansas Children's Hospital, says the law had immediate negative impacts.
“We saw a big uptick in phone calls from panicked parents and patients. Parents told us their children were suicidal. We had dozens of those calls,” Hutchinson said. “We did have several parents pack up and leave the state.”
She says some people attempted to kill themselves because of the law.
“I personally had to care for multiple patients who had severe suicide attempts and were in the ICU.”
The gender services program at Arkansas Children's Hospital still exists, but has been scaled back, Hutchinson said.
KUAR News reached out to Rutledge for an interview. In a statement provided by her office, Rutledge said she was “extremely disappointed” in what she called a “dangerously wrong decision by the three-judge panel."