Arkansas trial to decide legality of ban on transgender treatments for minors; doctor testifies

by mcardinal

Vicky Arias, FISM News


A doctor testified that the harms of transgender treatments in minors “outweigh the benefits” at trial to determine the legality of a ban on such procedures in Arkansas. The lawsuit brought against the ban is the first of its kind in the country and could set precedent in the restrictions that Republican-led states are putting in place to try to protect children.

In 2021, Arkansas passed a statewide law known as the SAFE Act which banned gender treatments for minors. The law prohibits physicians from performing sex-altering surgeries on minors and prescribing cross-sex hormones to those under 18 years of age. Additionally, doctors are prohibited from recommending minors to other medical professionals for gender-altering treatment.

The law doesn’t place any bans on non-gender-altering treatments, such as treatment for intersex or sexual development disorders and the medical treatment of issues that may arise as a result of prior gender-altering treatment.

In March 2021, the SAFE Act was passed by an overwhelming majority in the Arkansas state legislature, with a 70-22 vote in the state’s House of Representatives and a state Senate vote of 28-7. 

Despite formidable support from the state’s lawmakers for the act, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed the law in April 2021, but state legislators voted to overturn the governor’s veto and keep the law in place.

In May of 2021, the families of four transgender children and two physicians proceeded to sue the state of Arkansas, claiming that the SAFE Act is discriminatory toward transgender minors and violates the free speech of doctors. They are represented by the national and Arkansas state ACLU and several attorney’s firms.

A judge, James Moody, placed a temporary block on the law in July of last year, preventing the state from enforcing it, until the lawsuit has been decided.

Testimony in the case, which is being heard by the same judge that blocked it, began on October 17, 2022 and is currently unfolding.

On Monday, Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a psychiatrist who has worked in the field since the 1970s, testified on behalf of the state of Arkansas. Levine explained to the court the general dangers he sees in performing gender-altering treatments on minors.

“The expected benefits that the advocates support may not be delivered,” Levine stated. “They’re likely not to be realized [and] the harms seem to outweigh the benefits. Do we listen to science or to advocates and politics that come and go?”

According to ABC News, Levine explained that “his experience with patients shows a high rate of negative health, psychological, vocational, and social effects later in adult life” in individuals who received gender-altering treatments as minors.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge defended the state’s law in October saying it protects those who are too young to make decisions that they will be forced to live with the rest of their lives:

The SAFE Act protects children from life-altering, permanent decisions that they may desire to make as an underage child but could regret as an adult. No law in Arkansas prevents someone from making these decisions as an adult.

While the left continues to call such procedures “humane,” a growing population of detransitioners continues to form. These are individuals who return to identifying with their birth sex after having identified with the sex opposite the one in which they were born.

One such detransitioner, Chloe Cole, recently announced plans to sue the medical team that advocated for her gender transition as a minor. Cole was put on puberty blockers at 13 years old and received a double mastectomy at the age of 15.

“I want to hold the adults who put me in harm’s way accountable.” Cole said in a recent interview. “What happened to me is horrible…[and] it’s happening to children all over the U.S…and I want to be able to create a precedent for other people who have been in my situation to find justice themselves.”