On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced via Twitter that a Federal court in Arkansas blocked a law that would have prevented health care professionals from providing gender-affirming care to minors. In May, The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the bill on behalf of four transgender youth, their parents, and two healthcare professionals who provide gender-affirming care in the state.
House Bill 1570 would have prevented physicia from providing transition-related care to minors or referring a minor to another doctor to receive that care. Because of the law, transgender minors in Arkansas would have been denied or lost access to hormones and puberty blockers.
While advocates for the bill have called these aspects of transition-related care “experimental,” puberty blockers are largely considered a safe and reversible option for transgender youth. However, the effects of being denied transition-related care have proven to be detrimental to transgender youth — including being at greater risk of attempting suicide.
Dylan Bryandt, one of the transgender youths represented by the ACLU in the Arkansas lawsuit stated, “[After starting hormone therapy,] I now feel a level of confidence I never knew was possible. I can easily and confidently interact with other people, whether I know them or not. My body is finally beginning to match who I am.”
The use of hormonal treatments by adolescents is not new and is frequently used by cisgender youth in cases of hormonal imbalances or as a way to regulate gender development. Consider, for instance, the prescription of hormonal birth control for cisgender girls to manage side effects of puberty such as acne and mood swings. As Dr. Michelle Hutchison stated in an article by the ACLU, “If House Bill 1570 takes effect, I will be prohibited from providing these treatments to my transgender patients because they relate to ‘gender transition,’ but I will be able to continue providing the same treatments to my cisgender patients to help bring their bodies into alignment with their gender.”
Yesterday’s victory comes after several other wins for the transgender community in the last month, including the Biden administration’s commitment to advancing the rights of transgender Americans. In Maryland, FreeState Justice works to ensure that gender-affirming care remains accessible to both transgender youth and adults.
If you are a Maryland resident and you believe you have been denied health coverage or care because of your transgender identity or have had coverage denied for transition-related care, do not hesitate to fill out FreeState Justice’s legal help request form. FreeState Justice’s team of attorneys will work with you to help resolve the issue, or refer you to our network of pro-bono attorneys. This service is entirely free.
If you would like to support FreeState’s mission, we hope you will consider getting involved. Here are some ways in which you can help:
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