Brandt et al v. Rutledge et al is a court case challenging the legality of an Arkansas state bill, Act 626, that seeks to restrict the ability of transgender youth to seek out transgender care. The suit was brought on behalf of transgender minors in the state, their parents, and doctors who specialize in treating gender dysphoria in young patients.
On June 20, 2023, the District Judge overseeing the case supported the plaintiffs, placing a permanent injunction on Act 626, effectively preventing restrictions on transgender healthcare outlined within it from being codified into law. The case, along with others challenging similar bans on treatment of gender dysphoria in young patients, is believed likely to one day reach the United States Supreme Court.
Act 626 is unconstitutional. The Court determines that Plaintiffs are entitled to judgment in their favor on all claims. The State is permanently enjoined from enforcing Act 626… The Act also discriminates against transgender people. The law prohibits medical care that only transgender people choose to undergo, i.e, medical or surgical procedures related to gender transition.
On February 25, 2021, the Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, also known as House Bill 1570 or Act 626, was introduced into the state legislature. This act aimed to prohibit minors from undergoing gender affirming care, including hormone replacement therapy, puberty blockers, and surgery. It was passed on April 6, 2021 after the state legislature overrode Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto from the prior day.
The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit, representing four transgender youth, their parents, and two medical professionals who were directly impacted by the ban. The ACLU claimed the state of Arkansas was discriminating on the basis of sex against transgender individuals, unlawfully interfering with the right of parents to direct their children’s medical care, and unlawfully interfering with the ability of doctors to practice their trade.
The initial hearings took place in the Eastern District of Arkansas, located in Little Rock. The lawsuit began on May 25, 2021, and the temporary injunction was put in place on July 21, 2021. Following appeals from the defendants, the trial took place at the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit located at the Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri between November 15, 2021 until November 16, 2022, when an appeal for a rehearing was denied.
Decision and Impact
On June 20, 2023, Judge Moody made his final decision on Act 626, on which he imposed a permanent injunction, supporting all the claims made by the plaintiffs in the case. He ruled Act 626 was unconstitutional and the state was discriminating against transgender individuals with the law. This allowed trans minors to continue to access gender affirming care in Arkansas.
The director of ACLU Arkansas, Holly Dickson, said about Moody’s decision, “This decision sends a clear message. Fear-mongering and misinformation about this health care do not hold up to scrutiny; it hurts trans youth and must end. Science, medicine and law are clear: Gender-affirming care is necessary to ensure these young Arkansans can thrive and be healthy.”