A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked enforcement of Arkansas' ban on gender confirming treatments for transgender youth while a lawsuit challenging the prohibition proceeds.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in May asking U.S. District Judge Jay Moody in Little Rock to strike down the law that made Arkansas the first state to forbid doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or sex reassignment surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for such treatment. The ACLU sought the preliminary injunction while its lawsuit proceeded.
"To pull this care midstream from these patients, or minors, would cause irreparable harm," Moody said.
The law had been set to take effect July 28.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of four transgender youths and their families, as well as two doctors who provide gender confirming treatments. The lawsuit argues that the prohibition would severely harm transgender youth in the state and violate their constitutional rights.
"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," said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas.
Arkansas' Republican-dominated Legislature overrode GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of the measure. Hutchinson vetoed the ban following pleas from pediatricians, social workers and the parents of transgender youths who said it would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.
This story has been updated. It was originally published at 12:22 p.m.