More than a dozen state attorneys general have come to the defense of an Arkansas law banning the use of puberty blockers on children with gender dysphoria amid a legal challenge, arguing that states have an obligation to “protect kids.”
Led by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, the Republican attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas filed an amicus brief in federal court last Tuesday.
They asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to reject the ACLU's motion to block Arkansas’ Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. The law, the first of its kind to be passed in the nation, prohibits physicians from providing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and elective cosmetic gender surgeries to children under 18.
Additionally, the measure prohibits state tax dollars from funding such practices and allows insurance companies to deny coverage for sex reassignment surgeries.
The legislation was passed by the Republican-led state legislature in March. But Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the measure when it reached his desk. The legislature overrode the veto, enabling the SAFE Act to become law.
Shortly after, the progressive legal nonprofit ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of four Arkansas families seeking to invalidate the law. The complaint argues that the law "denies adolescents medically necessary treatment and prevents parents from obtaining medically necessary care for their children."
Although the ALCU claims that the law prohibits "doctors from treating their patients in accordance with the well-established standards of care," the attorney's general's friend-of-the-court brief argues that the lawsuit is "misleading" and ignores "risks such experimental treatments pose."
"They ignore the fact that children cannot fully understand the long-term risks associated with the procedures," the brief argues.
"They threaten that Arkansas's law will result in increased suicides even though the research does not support such a claim. And they assert that the State's protection of its children is 'animus' against transgender youth, even though, among other problems with the statement, most of these children will not identify as transgender as adults since their dysphoria will have resolved naturally so long as they can be protected from Plaintiffs' preferred experiments."
The brief was filed over a month after the ACLU first asked the court to rule in favor of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and the other defendants seeking to uphold the SAFE Act.
The attorneys general argue that states have been forced to step in to protect children because children with gender dysphoria are being given "puberty blockers, then cross-sex hormones, then surgical interventions such as 'chest reconstruction surgery' ... to 'masculinize' ... a girl's chest ..."
The plaintiffs argue that not taking such measures “can result in debilitating anxiety and depression, self-harm, and suicide,” the brief explains.
“States have been forced to step in to protect kids from experimental treatments,” the brief argues. "Because “the medical establishment has abandoned the field to the political zeitgeist, which labels dissenting opinions as ‘animus’ (or worse) and closes its ears to the tragic and growing chorus of detransitioners who feel betrayed by the adults who should have been caring for them."
The “peculiar vulnerability of children,” specifically their “inability to make critical decisions in an informed, mature manner,” is listed as a justification for state action.
The attorneys general warned that cross-sex hormones and other medical interventions to address gender dysphoria could lead to “irreversible, lifelong consequences." They include "complications such as infertility, loss of sexual function, increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, bone-density problems, risk of altered brain development, social risks from delayed puberty, and mental health concerns.”
The document cited the decision by the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden "to change course and prohibit the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in minors except in clinical trial settings."
A statement from the hospital contends that “these treatments are potentially fraught with extensive and irreversible adverse consequences such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, infertility, increased cancer risk, and thrombosis."
The attorneys general maintained that “the evidence that does exist shows that most cases of gender dysphoria resolve naturally by adulthood.”
“At the end of the day, it was the responsibility of the Arkansas legislature to determine the best way to protect children suffering from gender dysphoria and other forms of gender-related psychological distress. The medical uncertainty in the field does not relieve that responsibility, but only heightens it,” the brief reads.
“Based on the evidence, the legislature determined that the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical interventions are still experimental in nature and that the risks of such procedures outweigh their benefits. That determination does not discriminate against children suffering from gender dysphoria, but seeks to protect them.”
The Biden administration believes that Arkansas law is unconstitutional.
In a court filing in support of the ACLU's lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Justice asserted that “federal law bars the State of Arkansas from singling out transgender minors for specifically and discriminatorily denying their access to medically necessary care based solely on their sex assigned at birth."
Such action, the Justice Department argues, would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The consequences of allowing minors to undergo medicalized gender transitioning have received heightened attention in recent weeks. The CBS news magazine program “60 Minutes” profiled detransitioners who underwent some form of gender transitioning as minors only to regret their decision later in life.
A mainstream media outlet giving a platform to detransitioners outraged transgender activists, who accused the program of doing “harm” to the transgender community by reporting on the transgender debate from that particular angle.
Journalist Lesley Stahl defended the production.
"Their point is that they were not getting proper healthcare," Stahl said in a follow-up segment. "That was their point and that's the point we wanted to emphasize: that these were young people that were not getting proper healthcare advice."
LGBT activists also slammed the American Bookseller Association for promoting the book Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier, which highlights the rapid acceleration in the number of girls seeking to undergo gender transition surgery in addition to the long-term consequences associated with such procedures.
In response to the outcry, the ABA apologized for promoting a book that “goes against ABA’s ends policies, values and everything we believe and support,” describing their previous action as “inexcusable.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org