Children in need of protection from harmful gender transition procedures seem to have fewer and fewer advocates these days. Whether political leaders willing to turn their backs on them or elites trying to stay in sync with the socially-liberal views of their peers, children are the ones being left to pay the price. The latest example is the ACLU's lawsuit against Arkansas's recently-enacted Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act.
Passed by the Arkansas legislature earlier this year, this law prevents minors from getting irreversible gender transition procedures, prevents taxpayer funds or medical insurance mandates from paying for them, and provides legal remedies for minors who have been permanently disfigured or sterilized by them -- all common sense, and (what should be) uncontroversial, provisions.
While a federal judge has since temporarily enjoined the SAFE Act from taking effect, a coalition of 17 state attorneys general stepped in and joined Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's defense to let the court know blocking this law was unacceptable.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, who led this effort, recently joined Tony Perkins on "Washington Watch" to explain why he believes this is so important.
Children should not be pressured into making life-changing medical decisions at "an age in which the mind itself is not [fully] developed," Marshall said. "We know this is an experimental process that, at least if the research is to be guiding us, which we would hope it is, tells us that most children that present with gender dysphoria ultimately resolve themselves by the time they reach the age of maturity."
Minors are prevented from smoking and drinking until they reach a certain age. We require parents to use car seats and seat belts with young children. It only makes sense that children would be required to wait until they reach a certain age before they can undergo experimental surgeries and make permanent changes to their bodies--changes they will be forced to live with for their entire lives even if their feelings about the surgery change in later years.
Teenagers considering gender transition surgery are often confused and vulnerable. Requiring them to wait until they are an adult for these procedures is a common-sense policy everyone should be able to get behind. Let us hope that more leaders will see the science behind policies like the SAFE Act -- science that authorities in other countries like Great Britain, Sweden, and Finland have already recognized.
So, now that the SAFE Act has been blocked at the district court level, what's next?
Marshall explains: "Arkansas is going to directly appeal this decision" and "Alabama will lead the amicus brief like we had" done at the district court level. We need to "allow multiple states to be able to weigh in in support of what Arkansas has done" on the SAFE Act here.
Despite new court challenges like this, there is reason to hope. The SAFE Act was passed overwhelmingly by the Arkansas state legislature (those who were elected to represent the will of the voters), which overrode the governor's veto of the bill. Further, this preliminary stage ruling is only temporary; we believe the truth about why children need to be protected from these procedures will come out. And momentum is on the side of medical authorities, like those of the three European countries mentioned earlier, seeing the light on this issue.
Marshall hopes that his and the other AGs' efforts will "encourage more states to join us again to uphold what is a valid action on behalf of Arkansas's children." Indeed, let us hope and pray so.
To learn more about the SAFE Act and see how your state stacks up on this issue, see https://www.frc.org/safeact.