Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has filed a brief in a federal appeals court to defend an Arkansas law that prohibits what Marshall called experimental transgender treatments.
Alabama led 18 other states in supporting the Arkansas law in a case with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Arkansas passed a law in April called the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act (SAFE) Act” to prohibit gender transition procedures for minors, including the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries.
In July, a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect after a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of four transgender youths and their families, as well as two doctors who provide gender confirming treatments, the Associated Press reported.
Alabama lawmakers have proposed similar bills the last two years but they have not passed. The legislation will be considered again next year.
“Alabama and our coalition of states are alarmed by the growing number of children suffering from gender dysphoria and other forms of gender-related psychological distress,” Marshall said in a press release. “We all agree that these vulnerable children need help. The question is how to address their needs without causing serious long-term damage.”
The attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia joined Marshall in the brief.
In Alabama, the bills to ban transgender treatments for minors drew opposition from transgender youth and their families and the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In a position statement, the organization said surgeries are not done on minors and that puberty-blockers and hormones are used as part of an evidence-based standard of care. Families said banning treatments would deprive young people of what they said could be life-saving treatments because of a higher rate of suicide among teens with gender dysphoria.
Supporters of the legislation, including some doctors, said it would protect people not mature enough to consent to what could be life-changing treatments.
The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics filed a brief with the court challenging the Arkansas ban.
But Marshall said it was wrong to conclude that those organizations represented a consensus in the medical community.
“Rather than resort to risky and potentially devastating experimentation on vulnerable children, the Arkansas Legislature chose a path that has served the medical profession well for so long: First, do no harm,” Marshall said.