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Federal Appeals Court Considers Arkansas Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Minors

The US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit heard arguments regarding the constitutionality of Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care for minors, focusing on whether these restrictions can be considered as discrimination based on sex. 

A new law in 2021 is under scrutiny for its potential impact on parental rights and transgender youths’ access to medical care. 

Doctors would be banned from administering gender-affirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers, or surgery to individuals under the age of 18 as per the proposed law.

Credit: DepositPhotos

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Attorney Chase Strangio, representing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), stated that the ban is a violation of parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children. 

Strangio highlighted the impact of the law on parental authority in making medical decisions for their children, posing a significant challenge to long-established parental rights.

The hearing garnered attention, with actor Elliot Page among those in attendance. 

Page, known for advocating transgender rights, submitted a brief urging the court to uphold the previous ruling that deemed the ban unconstitutional. 

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The case has significant implications as 24 states have implemented similar laws, indicating a growing opposition to transgender rights in different areas of public life.

During the hearing, Dylan Jacobs, Arkansas Deputy Solicitor General, emphasized that the law’s intention is to target specific medical treatments and not to discriminate based on sex. 

Jacobs stated that minors can receive prescriptions for testosterone for reasons other than gender transition. 

He presented the law as falling under the state’s jurisdiction to regulate health and medical ethics.

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The decision to consider the case before the entire court, rather than a smaller panel, indicates a possible faster route to the U.S. Supreme Court, where similar laws in other states are also facing legal challenges. 

Most of the judges presiding over the arguments were chosen by Republican presidents, suggesting a conservative-leaning bench for this case.

The judges asked questions about the state’s reasons for the ban and the timing of gender identity development. 

Judge David Stras has sparked discussions about the legislative intent behind setting 18 as the cutoff age for the ban on gender identity before the end of puberty.

Credits: DepositPhotos

The ACLU, representing transgender youths and medical providers, presented their argument that the banned treatments are not prescribed before puberty, questioning the state’s reasoning behind the law. 

The decision about whether the law violates the due process and equal protection rights of transgender youths and families is still being deliberated by the court.

Chief Judge Steven Colloton stated that a ruling will be issued “in due course,” without specifying a timeline for a decision. 

The families involved in the legal challenge expressed optimism for a positive result, highlighting the significance of transgender youths’ access to gender-affirming care nationwide.

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