Multiple state attorneys general (AGs) filed an amicus brief in federal court on July 13 in support of an Arkansas law that bans the use of puberty blockers on children.

The brief was filed by 17 Republican AGs. They were led by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. The AGs for Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas all joined in the measure.

The AGs filed to defend the “Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” (HB 1570) which both prohibited healthcare professionals from providing “gender transition procedures for minors” and also prevented the use of public funds for these procedures. The act, sponsored by Arkansas House Representative Robin Lundstrum (R), was initially passed in March before being vetoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. This veto was overridden by the Arkansas legislature in April.

Following this, four families filed a lawsuit, Brandt et al v. Rutledge et al, via the ACLU in order to challenge HB 1570. The lawsuit alleges that HB 1570 “denies adolescents medically necessary treatment and prevents parents from obtaining medically necessary care for their children. It further prohibits doctors from treating their patients in accordance with the well-established standards of care or from referring patients to other doctors to receive the appropriate care.”

But 17 AGs responded by filing an amicus brief, a document that allows an individual or group who is not a party to a court case to provide information or expertise in order to ensure that the court has the details relevant to make its decision. The AGs, as “amici curiae” (“friends of the court”), claim that the issue surrounding the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgical interventions as treatment in order to help combat gender dysphoria is that “the evidence doesn’t support it.”

“What is known, however, is that most cases of gender dysphoria in children resolve naturally with time, and it’s impossible to know ahead of time whose dysphoria will persist into adulthood and whose won’t,” the AGs say in the brief. “Yet the evidence also shows that nearly all children whose gender dysphoria is treated with puberty blockers to ‘buy time’ will proceed to take cross-sex hormones and seek other medical interventions with irreversible, lifelong consequences – complications such as infertility, loss of sexual function, increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, bone-density problems, risk of altered brain development, social risks from delayed puberty, and mental health concerns.”

The brief asserts that these children are too young to be able to consent to a “life-altering, irreversible treatment.” It also claims that the “medical establishment has abandoned the field to the political zeitgeist, which labels dissenting opinions as ‘animus’ (or worse) and closes its ears to the tragic and growing chorus of detransitioners who feel betrayed by the adults who should have been caring for them.”

The AGs claim that states have historically had the authority to regulate in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty, and because of the lack of evidence promoting positive outcomes for children who use puberty blockers, the state should be allowed to legislate on them. The brief cites several updates and changes in the treatment protocols at other areas of the world. These include the Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, which decided to prohibit the use of puberty blockers in minors “except in clinical trial settings.” It also includes the Council for Choices in Healthcare in Finland, which “lamented the lack of evidence in the areas and urged caution in light of the severe risks associated with medical intervention.” As the Council put it regarding gender dysphoria:

“[H]ealthcare services must be based on evidence and recognized treatment and operational practices. As far as minors are concerned, there are no medical treatment[s] that can be considered evidence-based” (Emphasis mine).

All in all, the brief summarizes into four main points:

  1. There is very little evidence regarding the effects of “gender transitioning” in adolescents.
  2. Whatever evidence does exist points to most gender dysphoria cases resolve themselves naturally by adulthood.
  3. There are serious, lifelong risks that come with these experimental gender procedures that children cannot fully understand.
  4. Evidence does not suggest that successful sex change procedures decrease risk of suicide among those struggling with gender dysphoria.

However, the Biden administration also sided with the ACLU. In a court filing, the U.S. Department of Justice argued that the Arkansas law “violates the Equal Protection Clause” because the “restrictions explicitly target transgender people.”

But the intent of the AGs is not to “explicitly target transgender people.” Instead, their concern is that we should be very careful in recommending a permanent, life-altering decision to susceptible children who have a high chance of growing out of their feelings of gender dysphoria. These children are hurt and confused, and the state wants to be careful that they don’t make a decision clouded by that pain and confusion that they may regret later in life.

Children are wonderfully made by God, and His unique design of male and female is something that we should celebrate – not seek to destroy. Instead, we should walk alongside our brothers and sisters who are struggling with gender dysphoria and help them to recognize the value they have in being the gender that God created them to be.

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