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Home U.S. Judge Weighs Legality of Arkansas Ban on Care for Transgender Youth

Judge Weighs Legality of Arkansas Ban on Care for Transgender Youth

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For Dylan Brandt, a transgender teen in Arkansas, two years of taking testosterone found that “what you look like and what you feel inside finally match.”

But that sense of relief was ruined last year when the Arkansas legislature passed the country’s first bill. Ban On doctors administering hormone therapy or puberty blockers to transgender people under the age of 18. Dylan, 17, then plaintiff in a legal challenge to the ban, may leave the state to continue hormone therapy. faced with

“It means uprooting our entire lives, everything we have here,” Dylan said at the start of the trial over the legality of the ban in October in Little Rock. “I have a job, my mother has a job, we have family and friends. We have a home, we have a community, we have a life here.”

The country’s first trial over a challenge to the state ban, which has come to be known as gender-affirming care, ended Thursday after four days of testimony in October and another four days last week. The case will be decided at a time when violence against transgender people is rampant It is rising Republican-led efforts to restrict trans rights are gaining momentum in state legislatures across the country. U.S. District Judge James M. Moody Jr., who temporarily blocked the ban from taking effect last year while the lawsuit was pending – decision Confirmed by Federal Court of Appeals last summer- It is unclear when the verdict will be handed down.

Arkansas’ ban Enacted in April 2021,override rejection Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson criticized it as “huge government overreach.”

Tennessee has banned doctors from administering hormone therapy to transgender minors before puberty, and lawmakers have approved legislation in Alabama. partially blocked A federal judge makes it a felony to provide gender-affirming care to a minor. In November, Florida effectively banned drugs and surgery for new adolescents seeking a sex change.

In recent years, many transgender youth in America have sought treatments such as pubertal blockers, which pause physiological development during puberty, and hormone therapy, which boosts estrogen and testosterone levels, to transform their bodies into their own. Gender identity is getting closer.

Both treatments are used to treat a variety of medical problems, including early puberty and hormone deficiencies in non-transgender minors.major medical associations including Endocrinological Society and the American Academy of Pediatricsrecommends access to such care for transgender people under the age of 18, saying that refusing it may increase the risk of mental health distress.

Williams Institute at UCLA Law School Estimate Arkansas has 1,800 transgender youth. In Little Rock, Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s Gender Spectrum Clinic serves fewer than 300 patients and provides puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender patients, but no surgery, he said. The plaintiff in the case, Medical Director Dr. Catherine Stambaugh, testified. On trial.

If the law goes into effect, Arkansas doctors providing gender-affirming care will be an approach widely adopted by the medical community to treat children and teenagers who come out as transgender. You may lose your license or be subject to civil lawsuits. It also prohibits referral of patients out of state. Also, private insurance companies may deny coverage for such care to transgender patients of all ages.

A lawsuit against the ban was filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Dylan and three other young transgender residents and their families, as well as Dr. Stanbow.of the lawsuit alleges The ban “endangers the health and well-being of Arkansas’ transgender youth,” is unconstitutional, violates the right of transgender people to equal protection, and makes appropriate medical decisions for children. interferes with a parent’s right to practice and violates the physician’s First Amendment right to refer a patient for treatment.

In the trial, which took place before Judge Moody without a jury, the attorneys for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and plaintiffs at the ACLU and other law firms accused her of using adolescent blockers and having sex. Conflicted over hormone therapy for minors. A condition characterized by dysphoria, distress over disagreement between gender identity and the sex assigned at birth.

Witnesses summoned by the defense expressed concern about the health effects of gender-affirming treatments, questioned the scientific data supporting such treatments, and divided some providers. testified to the safety and importance of gender-affirming care and detailed medical standards for providing such treatment.

Dr. Michele Hutchison, chief of pediatric endocrinology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who until recently treated transgender adolescents at the Gender Spectrum Clinic, testified as a witness for the plaintiffs. He was one of the plaintiffs, but was dropped from the case after moving out of state.

Her patients at the clinic were at least 14 years old before starting hormone therapy. I’ve seen him change into a healthy person,” he said in court.

Dr. Hutchison said that when the Arkansas ban was introduced, the clinic saw an increase in calls from “panicked patients and panicked family members,” raising patient anxiety and suicide risk. I explained that it was rising. During that time, she said four of her patients had been admitted to the clinic for suicide attempts.

Witnesses summoned by the state included doctors who recommended psychotherapy rather than gender-affirming treatment and those who took a “wait and see” approach to patients with gender dysphoria. Some have testified in legislative bodies or related trials upholding other state restrictions on such care.

Dr. Paul Hruz, a pediatric endocrinologist and associate professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, criticized the scientific evidence supporting gender-affirming care as limited and incomplete.

“It would be a mistake to say that we have identified the best or most effective solution that maximizes benefits and minimizes risks in alleviating suffering from gender dysphoria,” he said.

A recent New York Times survey of puberty blockers found that some doctors have grown more concerned about the potential risks.National Health Service, UK, October Proposed Restrict drug use by transgender youth in research settings. Sweden and Finland also have restrictions on treatment. Yet researchers have found that puberty blockers can help ease the distress of young people who identify as transgender, and many doctors and families of transgender children believe puberty blockers can save their lives. I call it rescue.

Another witness for the defense, Dr. Steven Levin, a psychiatrist at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio, recommends psychotherapy over gender affirmation care, although patients who seek such care receive it. He said he would not interfere.

Still, Dr. Levine said under cross-examination that the Arkansas ban does not adequately address the problem of transgender youth who have already started hormone treatment. It’s shocking and devastating for them,” he said.

He also criticized laws that punish doctors for providing such care.

“I think this is meant to scare doctors away from getting involved in this,” he said.

The state also called two witnesses who deconverted. Witnesses who were adults at the time of the transition are not Arkansas residents and do not receive care within the state.

Donny Ray Saxton (Donny Ray Saxton) of Bilonia, Arkansas, is the plaintiff in the case, the owner of a small plumbing company, and a transgender woman when 17-year-old Parker told him years ago. He testified that he knew very little about what it meant to be. Before “He didn’t want to be called a woman.”

However, he noticed that Parker was largely unsociable and seemed to be riddled with anxiety and depression. Sometimes I covered the bathroom mirror. He had not used a public restroom since preschool.

When his son revealed he was transgender, Saxton told court:

Parker began treatment at a gender spectrum clinic and eventually started taking testosterone. Hormone therapy has made him a “new man,” Saxton said.

However, he said the ban threatened to send his son “back to the deep, dark places he once was.” Mr. Saxton began sleeping on the couch to get close to Parker, worried that Parker might get hurt.

“What do you think would happen to Parker if gender-affirming care was not available to him?” asked plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“I don’t think about it,” replied Mr. Saxton. “I don’t.”

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