The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction on Thursday blocking the enforcement of an Arkansas law that would ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youth.
U.S. District Judge Jay Moody had previously blocked enforcement of the law, known as Act 626, in July 2021 following a suit brought by the ACLU on behalf of four transgender youths and their families, as well as two doctors who provide gender confirming treatments. The group argues that the prohibition would severely harm transgender youth in the state and violate their constitutional rights.
The state appealed this preliminary injunction to the 8th Circuit, in which a three-judge panel affirmed Moody’s ruling while the case proceeds to trial.
“Because the minor’s sex at birth determines whether or not the minor can receive certain types of medical care under the law, Act 626 discriminates on the basis of sex,” the court ruled.
Act 626, formerly HB 1570, was passed by the state legislature in April 2021 after lawmakers voted to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the bill. If allowed to take effect, Act 626 would make Arkansas the first state to forbid doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or sex reassignment surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for such treatment.
Hutchinson criticized the bill as an extreme overreach of government authority and cited concerns that the bill did not exclude minors already undergoing gender-affirming care. Hutchinson has might have signed such legislation if only focused on gender-confirming surgery for persons under 18 years of age.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will ask the full 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the ruling, according to spokeswoman Amanda Priest.
Pediatricians, the Justice Department and groups such as the American Medical Association have publicly spoken against the ban.
The trial to decide the permanent fate of the law will be held before Moody in the U.S. District Court in Little Rock beginning on Oct. 17.
The 8th Circuit covers the states Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and the Dakotas.
Read the Court’s full ruling and legal document here.