LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday asked a federal judge to prevent Arkansas from enforcing its ban on gender confirming treatments for transgender youth while a lawsuit challenging the prohibition proceeds.
The ACLU requested a preliminary injunction against the new law, which is set to take effect on July 28. It will prohibit doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the ban last month on behalf of four transgender youth and their families, as well as two doctors who provide the treatments.
The ban is forcing some families of transgender youth to move out of state to continue their children's treatments, if they can afford to do so, the filing contends.
“The threat of harm to plaintiffs is concrete, imminent, and devastating, and far outweighs any conceivable cost to the state of maintaining the status quo while this case proceeds," the filing asserts.
Republican lawmakers enacted the ban in April, overriding a veto by GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The governor vetoed the ban following pleas from pediatricians, social workers and the parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.
At least seven transgender youth have been hospitalized because of suicide attempts since discussion about the treatment ban began, the ACLU said in its filing.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office said she had expected the ACLU's request and is reviewing the group's filing.
“She looks forward to responding on behalf of the people of Arkansas," spokeswoman Amanda Priest said.