In 2021, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to officially ban gender-affirming health care for transgender children. But the move, part of the GOP’s political assault on trans people, was overruled by a panel of judges on Thursday.
The ruling from the 8th District Court of Appeals upholds a judge’s decision last year to temporarily block the measure from going into effect as it made its way through the courts.
“Because the minor’s sex at birth determines whether or not the minor can receive certain types of medical care under the law, Act 626 discriminates on the basis of sex,” the court’s ruling Thursday said, according to The Associated Press.
It’s a blow to Arkansas conservatives and to conservatives elsewhere who’ve been feverishly pushing their state legislatures to enact similarly oppressive bans on gender-affirming care. This obsession with trans youth is part of the GOP’s anti-LGBTQ crusade.
The Arkansas ban on care for trans kids was so deplorable it was even rejected by the state’s Republican governor. The GOP-led Legislature later overrode the veto.
It was a marked difference from right-wing governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, who’ve both been rabid in their attempts to impose restrictions on gender-affirming health care.
In Abbott’s case, a judge in May approved parts of his plan to encourage child abuse investigations into parents whose trans kids receive gender-affirming health care. In DeSantis’ case, he has pushed for bans on medical care for trans kids, as well. Succumbing to his wishes, Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration recently issued a rule banning Medicaid from covering gender-affirming treatment for people of any age.
Republicans like DeSantis, Abbott and conservatives in Arkansas all premise these human rights rollbacks on the lie they’re being done in the name of protecting children. As I wrote earlier this year, there’s clear evidence that targeting trans kids as Republicans are doing can lead to psychological trauma.
The court ruling in Arkansas on Thursday was welcomed news. But the GOP’s widespread assault on trans rights continues.