Federal courts have struck down Arkansas and Florida laws restricting gender-affirming care for transgender people. These decisions are important steps in protecting the rights of trans people across the nation and show that illegal and discriminatory bans on gender-affirming care will not be tolerated.
The Arkansas law blocked banned gender-affirming care for minors – the first law of its kind in the country. The judge ruled that the law directly contradicted its stated intention of protecting the interests of children, instead harming the mental and physical well-being of patients and their families. The law’s passing was not supported by any scientific evidence.
The newly invalidated Florida law denied Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care provided to transgender individuals. This law was predicated on a report that incorrectly categorized gender-affirming care as a form of experimental treatment, thus precluding it from being paid for by Medicaid. The judge stated that the report was a “biased effort to justify a predetermined outcome, not a fair analysis of the evidence. … The conclusion was not supported by the evidence and was contrary to generally accepted medical standards.” These bans are being called out for what they are: discriminatory, political and motivated by hate rather than reason.
Curbs motivated by religion
Both the Arkansas and Florida laws faced criticism because they were not motivated by concern for young people or by medical evidence, but by religio-political beliefs. In Arkansas, three of the state’s witnesses during the trial were recruited by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian Nationalist organization. On the stand, several witnesses admitted to having never treated transgender teens.
U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. had no problem seeing the problem here. In his opinion, Moody wrote, “While there is nothing nefarious about an organization recruiting witnesses to testify for their cause, it is clear from listening to the testimony that [the three] were testifying more from a religious doctrinal standpoint rather than that required of experts.”
These “experts” have no evidence to support their beliefs because there is no evidence to support their beliefs. They rely entirely on religious conviction to buttress their opinions.
Fodder for a culture war
In Florida, the trans care ban was part of an ongoing attack on LGBTQ+ rights led by Gov. Ron DeSantis. It was part of a culture war fusillade that DeSantis is using to woo Christian Nationalists in his quest for the White House.
Federal courts struck down Arkansas and Florida laws restricting gender-affirming care for transgender people – Bans against gender-affirming care are being struck down because they are harmful; not only should people have the freedom to make their own medical decisions as a matter of principle, but gender-affirming care has been proven to be invaluable to the health and well-being of transgender individuals. There is no science-backed evidence that points towards gender-affirming care bans as a sound course of action. Transgender people overwhelmingly benefit from proper gender-affirming care.
To claim that gender-affirming care is harmful to youth is to ignore reality. That’s something anti-LGBTQ+ extremists do frequently, and, as these recent rulings prove, it makes a poor basis for public policy.