U.S. judge blocks Arkansas ban on gender-transition treatments for children By Reuters

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By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Wednesday barred the state of Arkansas, at least for now, from enforcing a first-in-the-nation law that would ban doctors from providing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or gender transition surgeries to minors.

U.S. District Judge James Moody issued the temporary injunction in response to a legal challenge filed by the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The law was set to take effect July 28.

“This ruling sends a clear message to states across the country that gender-affirming care is life-saving care, and we won’t let politicians in Arkansas — or anywhere else — take it away,” Holly Dickson, executive director of ACLU of Arkansas, said in a written statement.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she would appeal the decision to a higher court. State lawmakers in April overrode a veto by Governor Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson to pass the measure, known as HB1570.

“This evidence-based law was created because we cannot allow children as young as 9 years old to receive experimental procedures that have irreversible, physical consequences,” Rutledge said in a statement.

Arkansas was the first U.S. state to ban certain types of transgender treatments to minors. The transgender rights movement is growing, and states are reconsidering affected policies including about bathroom access and sports participation.

A child who identifies as transgender can be prescribed puberty blockers, medication intended to delay development of secondary sex characteristics. The child may ultimately undergo cross-sex hormone therapy or even surgery, although experts say those cases are rare in minors.

Proponents say each step is undertaken with the consultation of doctors, therapists and social workers and backed by scientific research.

Opponents argue that children are too young to make the sometimes life-altering decisions involved and should be given time and counseling.

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