Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas From Protecting Kids From Chemical Castration

On Wednesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked Arkansas’ law protecting children from experimental transgender “treatments” that often carry lifelong effects, including sterilization. In April, the Arkansas House and Senate voted to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s H.B. 1570, the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act. Experimental “puberty-blocking” drugs and cross-sex hormones may have long-lasting impacts on fertility, so advocates have branded them “chemical castration.” Yet opponents of the law claim that withdrawing “health care” will harm children.

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody granted the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) request for a preliminary injunction, preventing the law from going into effect until the ACLU’s lawsuit had been resolved, the Associated Press reported. Moody ruled that the ACLU’s plaintiffs were likely to succeed with their legal challenge and that allowing the law to go into effect on July 28 (as planned) would hurt young people who are already undergoing “treatment.”

“To pull this care midstream from these patients, or minors, would cause irreparable harm,” Moody said.


He issued the injunction shortly after hearing arguments for about an hour and a half. Lawyers representing the state argued that the law targeted questionable procedures, not transgender people. Yet Moody questioned why a minor born male should be allowed to receive testosterone while a minor born female should not. “How do you justify giving that to one sex but not the other and not call that sex discrimination?” he asked.

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The ACLU filed a lawsuit in May on behalf of four minor children, their families, and two doctors who provide “puberty-blocking” drugs and cross-sex hormones. The lawsuit alleges that the Arkansas law violates the 14th Amendment’s Due Process clause by discriminating against minors due to their transgender status and requiring doctors to discriminate in the same way. The lawsuit also claims that the law violates the parents’ parental authority to make medical decisions for their children, and that it violates the doctors’ free speech by banning them from referring clients for transgender “treatments.”

While the condition of gender dysphoria (the painful and persistent discomfort with one’s own body that comes from identifying with the opposite sex) is real, there is no conclusive evidence that transgender surgery improves the mental health outcomes of gender dysphoric people. Many observers have compared transgender surgery to anorexia because it involves extreme measures to alter an otherwise healthy body to appease a disturbed mental state.

Men and women who formerly identified as transgender and underwent surgery have grown to reject transgender identity and lament the damage they did to their own bodies. A man who formerly identified as a woman and got his male genitals removed described the female facsimile that replaced them as a “Frankenstein hack job.”

Doctors have warned that even “puberty-blockers” and cross-sex hormones give healthy people a disease. In March, Sweden’s Karolinska University Hospital, which treats minors experiencing gender dysphoria, announced it would not provide “puberty-blocking” drugs or cross-sex hormones to children under the age of 16. Britain’s High Court ruled that minors cannot consent to procedures that may make them infertile.

Even non-chemical interventions, such as chest binders (meant to hide a girl’s feminine upper-body features), carry risks. As Abigail Shrier documented in her book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, chest binders may lead to “fractured or bruised ribs, punctured or collapsed lungs, shortness of breath, back pain, and deformation of the breast tissue.”

It seems rather ironic that the ACLU is using parental rights as an argument against Arkansas’ law. Many transgender activists and clinicians have attempted to circumvent parents in order to rush these “treatments” on gender-confused kids. Concerned parents have demanded access to public school curriculum to protect their children from gender confusion.

The central argument in the lawsuit — the discrimination claim — arguably should not stand. While the Arkansas law does aim to prevent doctors from prescribing testosterone to biological girls while allowing them to prescribe it to biological boys with hormone deficiencies, there is a fundamental biological difference between males and females. Males with a testosterone deficiency need testosterone for healthy development, while testosterone will interfere with the healthy development of females who do not have a hormone imbalance.

Girls who identify as male but who do not have a hormone deficiency do not need testosterone in the same way that boys who have a testosterone deficiency do. The central issue at stake is not the child’s transgender identity but the biological differences between the health care needs of males and females. Refusing to treat a female as a male for medical decisions is not discrimination — it’s common sense.

The ACLU and transgender activists argue that denying transgender “treatments” to gender dysphoric people makes them more likely to commit suicide. The lawsuit claims that at least six transgender adolescents attempted suicide in the state after the legislature overrode Hutchinson’s veto.

Gender dysphoria is a tragic condition, but it is heinous for activists to use suicide as a weapon like this. If any of those young people had actually succeeded in committing suicide, it would not be the fault of the legislature.

While Hutchinson vetoed the law, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R-Ark.) said she planned to appeal the ruling on the preliminary injunction.

“I will aggressively defend Arkansas’s law, which strongly limits permanent, life-altering sex changes to adolescents,” Rutledge said. “I will not sit idly by while radical groups such as the ACLU use our children as pawns for their own social agenda.”

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“The legal challenge to this law is being mounted by a political movement that advocates for using off-label drugs and experimental procedures on minors. Yet a growing number of individuals are coming forward to share their stories of being permanently disfigured and/or sterilized from procedures such as puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and irreversible surgeries,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement on the injunction. “The truth about the dangers of these life altering procedures cannot be ignored.”

“Our legislature made the reasonable decision to protect minors from dangerous and life-altering drugs, hormones, and surgeries,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a statement. “Against the will of Arkansans, liberal activists have now put those children back in harm’s way.”