A federal judge on Wednesday blocked Arkansas’ law banning transgender surgery and hormones for children after civil liberties groups went to court to overturn the bar on gender dysphoria treatment.
Judge Jay Moody, an Obama appointee, granted a request for an injunction, preventing enforcement of the law while the case proceeds.
“To pull this care midstream from these patients, or minors, would cause irreparable harm,” the judge said, according to the Associated Press.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing families of transgender youth, filed a lawsuit in May to upend Arkansas’ Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act.
The law bans transgender medical treatment, including puberty blockers and surgery, to anyone under 18 years old. Arkansas was the first state to pass such a law, the Associated Press reported.
It was passed in April through an override of the governor’s veto and was set to take effect July 28 until the judge’s order on Wednesday blocking it.
“If the Health Care Ban goes into effect, it will have devastating consequences for transgender youth in Arkansas. These young people will be unable to obtain medical care that their doctors and parents agree they need and those already receiving care will have their treatment abruptly halted which could have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences,” the ACLU said in court papers.
The group argued that in the weeks following the law’s passage, at least six transgender youth attempted to commit suicide.
But Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge claimed the state’s law is responding to international concerns over experimental and life-altering gender transitioning treatment in children.
“Even when those procedures don’t involve invasive surgery, giving children puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones can have irreversible physical consequences — for instance, permanent infertility and destroying the ability of previously healthy sex organs to function,” she wrote in court papers.
After the judge issued the injunction, the ACLU said it will continue to fight for trans youth.
“Trans youth shouldn’t have to fight this hard to access life-saving care. We will continue to fight alongside trans youth, their parents, and their doctors to permanently end this ban,” the ACLU posted to Twitter.
Ms. Rutledge’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.