Case against Arkansas Transgender Youth Healthcare Ban Reaches Federal Court

Trans Rights Are Human Rights

The case against Arkansas's transgender youth healthcare ban was heard without much fanfare by a Federal appeals court on Tuesday, April 11, 2024. The en banc review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has yet to be reported on by right-wing news outlets. The Appeals Court likely will uphold the decisions by lower courts that found it unconstitutional and side with the plaintiffs.

A three-judge panel of the Eight Circuit did earlier affirm the lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the SAFE Act in August 2022, according to Bloomberg Law

The state’s ban applies to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries to treat gender dysphoria. The lawsuit is one of several high-profile cases currently testing the rights of transgender minors to access medical care for gender dysphoria.

The Eighth Circuit is the first federal appeals court to delve into the merits of questions presented by 24 virtually identical state laws enacted between 2021 and 2024.

Upon the conclusion of today's en banc review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Brandt v. Griffin plaintiffs Dylan and Joanna Brandt, Sabrina, Lacey and Aaron Jennen, Parker and Donnie Ray Saxton, and Brooke, Amanda, and Shayne Dennis released the following statement to ACLU of Arkansas:

“We stand united in our belief that gender-affirming care is not just medical care; it is lifesaving care. This belief is not only ours, but is also supported by leading medical organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association. These institutions have publicly recognized that gender-affirming care is crucial in significantly reducing the dire physical and mental health consequences experienced by those with untreated gender dysphoria."

"Despite clear evidence and expert consensus on the importance of gender-affirming care, we find ourselves once again defending our right to access basic healthcare against political interference. It is deeply disheartening to see that, in the pursuit of their ideological agendas, some politicians are willing to disregard the well-being and rights of transgender youth. This ongoing battle, in Arkansas and across the United States, is a stark reminder of the challenges we face in ensuring that everyone has the freedom to access the care they need and deserve."

"The fact that families are relocating to find safe havens where their children can live authentically and receive necessary medical care is a testament to the current state of uncertainty and fear. It is unconscionable that in the United States, a country that prides itself on freedom and justice for all, people are forced to flee their homes to secure basic human rights. The need to seek out ‘safe states’ not only underscores the uneven landscape of rights and protections but also highlights the urgency of our fight for equality and access to healthcare."

"As we move forward, let it be known that we are not just fighting for access to medical care; we are fighting for the right to live our lives authentically and without fear. We are fighting for the future of all trans youth and their families, who deserve to live in a world where their rights are protected and their health is prioritized. We call on everyone to stand with us in this fight, to recognize the humanity and dignity of trans Arkansans, and to work towards a future where no one has to fear being themselves or accessing the care they need."

"Our voices, combined with those of medical professionals and advocates across the nation, send a clear message: gender-affirming care is essential, and the rights of transgender Arkansans are non-negotiable. We urge the courts and policymakers to heed this message, to prioritize the health and well-being of all people, not just some; and to ensure that every person has the opportunity to live their life to the fullest, as their true self, in Arkansas. Together, we can build a more inclusive and compassionate society for everyone.”

The lawsuit — which aims to overturn a 2021 Arkansas law that prohibits gender-affirming care for transgender youth — was filed by the ACLU of Arkansas, ACLU’s Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project, and the law firms of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and Gill Ragon Owen.

For more on Brandt v. Griffin, click here:https://www.aclu.org/cases/brandt-et-al-v-rutledge-et

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