By Brandon Moseley

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) filed an amicus brief in a federal appellate court defending an Arkansas law prohibiting children from receiving irreversible experimental transgender treatments. 

The 19-state brief was led by Alabama and filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

“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,” said Marshall.  “We all agree that these vulnerable children need help. The question is how to address their needs without causing serious long-term damage.

In April, the State of Arkansas enacted the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act” to prohibit gender transition procedures for minors, including the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery.  In July, Alabama led a coalition of 17 states to defend the Arkansas law, which, after being enjoined by a federal district court order, has been appealed to the Eighth Circuit.

“The district wrongly relied on a brief filed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics to conclude that the ‘consensus’ of the medical community requires ‘treating’ children with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical interventions,” Marshall said. “These groups have drifted far from their roots as respected medical organizations. The AMA now regularly lobbies for abortion, and recently released a dystopian language guide with a list of now-forbidden words (e.g., ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘under-served’) and their approved replacements (‘historically and intentionally excluded’). And both groups stifle debate within their own ranks, declare any questioning of the political zeitgeist as ‘animus’ (or worse), and proclaim a false consensus of medical professionals that simply does not exist.”

Some in the LGBTQ community have supported these therapies on children, parents, and doctors through books, magazine articles, and the internet.

“If anyone spent just a little bit of time with the scientific literature in this area, they would quickly learn that science is largely unsettled; nearly everyone agrees that far more research is needed; and the currently popular approach to care in the United States is not supported by well-researched evidence-based studies,” Marshall said. “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. 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 medical interventions with irreversible, life-long consequences such as infertility, loss of sexual function, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, bone density problems, risk of brain development, social harms from delayed puberty, and mental health concerns.

“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.""

State Sen. Shay Shelnutt (R-Trussville) has pre-filed legislation similar to the Arkansas law in advance of the 2022 regular session.

SB5 would, “Prohibit the performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child, that is intended to alter the minor child's gender or delay puberty; to provide for exceptions; to provide for disclosure of certain information concerning students to parents by schools and to establish criminal penalties for violations.”

Shelnutt’s legislation passed the State Senate last year; but ran into opposition from Republicans in committee in the House who felt that the State was interfering with parental rights, thus the bill never made it to the House for a vote.

Marshall was joined in the brief by 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.