States Defend Arkansas Ban on Experimental Transgender Treatments for Children


A coalition of 17 state attorneys general is defending Arkansas’ Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, a law that protects children from transgender drugs and surgeries that can lead to body mutilation and sterility.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall led the coalition in an amicus brief filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The brief supports Arkansas’ right to protect children from irreversible damage with the law that has been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Brandt v. Rutledge.

Marshall said in a statement:

We are filing this brief because, like Arkansas, we are concerned about the surge in recent years of children suffering from gender dysphoria and other forms of gender-related psychological distress. Like Arkansas–and like those challenging the SAFE Act—we are concerned because these vulnerable children are suffering greatly and need help. The vital questions are, how do we help them, and how do we avoid serious irreversible damage.

Noting that countries such as Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom consider transgender procedures to be experimental, Marshall observed that “most cases of gender dysphoria in children resolve naturally with time.”

He explained further:

[T]he evidence also shows that nearly all children whose gender dysphoria is treated with puberty blockers to ‘buy time’ will proceed to take cross-sex hormones and seek other medical interventions with irreversible, lifelong consequences—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.

Marshall emphasized as well that children cannot make such life-altering decisions due to their still-developing cognitive skills and lack of “life experience.”

The Arkansas legislature voted in April to override the veto of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on the bill to block minors from undergoing treatment with transgender drugs and gender transition surgeries.

Lawmakers in the Arkansas House voted 71-24, and in the Senate 25-8, to override Hutchinson’s veto just one day after he held a press conference explaining his decision.

The vote to override made Arkansas the first state to ban transgender drugs and surgeries for young people.

“With the stakes so high, the harms so great, and the known benefits so paltry, the Arkansas legislature did not have to embrace an experimental path in lieu of the one that has served the medical profession so well for so long: First, do no harm,” Marshall stated.

The attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas joined Marshall in the brief.

The case is Brandt v. Rutledge, No. 4:21-CV-00450 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas


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