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Obama-Appointed Judge Strikes Down Arkansas Ban on Sex Changes For Children — Claims Law is 'Unconstitutional'

A district judge appointed by former President Barack Obama has struck down the Arkansas ban on child sex changes, calling the law “unconstitutional.”

Four transgender Arkansas minors, their parents, and two physicians who had treated them had filed a lawsuit challenging the law. Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union represented them.

District Judge Jay Moody asserted in his ruling that the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act violates the due process clause and equal protection rights of transgender people.

Moody also took issue with part of the law that prevents healthcare workers from referring minor patients for hormones, medications, and surgeries in places where they are legal. He ruled that this violates their First Amendment rights.

“Rather than protecting children or safeguarding medical ethics, the evidence showed that the prohibited medical care improves the mental health and well-being of patients and that, by prohibiting it, the State undermined the interests it claims to be advancing,” Moody wrote in his ruling.

“The State offered no evidence to refute the decades of clinical experience demonstrating the efficacy of gender-affirming medical care,” Moody asserted. “Additionally, the State’s experts offered no evidence-based treatment alternatives.”

“The Court finds that the State has failed to prove that its interests in the safety of Arkansas adolescents from gender transitioning procedures or the medical community’s ethical decline are compelling, genuine, or even rational,” the judge wrote.

The SAFE Act became law in May 2021 after the Arkansas Legislature overrode then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto.

Attorney General Tim Griffin has vowed to appeal the ruling.

“I am disappointed in the decision that prevents our state from protecting our children against dangerous medical experimentation under the moniker of ‘gender transition,’” Griffin said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Judge Moody misses what is widely understood across the United States and in the United Kingdom and European countries: There is no scientific evidence that any child will benefit from these procedures, while the consequences are harmful and often permanent. I will continue fighting as long as it takes to stop providers from sterilizing children.”

Griffin added, “We plan to appeal Judge Moody’s decision to the Eighth Circuit.”

In a statement posted to Twitter, Governor Sarah Huckabee-Sanders also vowed to fight the ruling.

“Only in the far-Left’s woke vision of America is it not appropriate to protect children,” the governor wrote. “We will fight this and the Attorney General plans to appeal Judge Moody’s decision to the Eighth Circuit.”

Meanwhile, the ACLU issued a statement celebrating the decision.

“We’re relieved and grateful that the court has ruled in favor of these brave Arkansans and their rights, protecting life-saving care that should be available to all trans youth,” said Holly Dickson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “This decision sends a clear message. Fear-mongering and misinformation about this health care do not hold up to scrutiny; it hurts trans youth and must end. Science, medicine, and law are clear: gender-affirming care is necessary to ensure these young Arkansans can thrive and be healthy.”

The ACLU maintains that sex change procedures for children is one of our “most basic rights.”

“This ruling offers an enormous relief to transgender youth and their families across Arkansas and across the country,” said Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “In state after state, transgender people are being forced to fight for our most basic rights, including access to the health care many of us need to live. This victory shows that these laws, when tested by evidence, are indefensible under any standard of constitutional review. We hope that this sends a message to other states about the vulnerability of these laws and the many harms that come from passing them. We’re so thankful for the bravery of our clients and the tireless work of advocates in Arkansas.”

Preliminary injunctions from federal court judges have also blocked similar laws in Alabama, Florida, and Indiana.

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