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Illinois joins effort to protect trans teen access to healthcare

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On Wednesday, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined 20 other state attorneys general to support transgender teenagers access to healthcare.

The amicus brief filed in the 8th U.S. District Court supported a challenge to anArkansas law that prohibits healthcare professionals from providing trans teenagers with medically-necessary care.

The coalition urged the court to affirm a lower court judgment that blocked enforcement of Arkansas’ Save Adolescents from Experimentation, or SAFE Act. Despite medical consensus that gender-affirming care has a positive impact on adolescents with gender dysphoria, the law seeks to prohibit physicians and other health care providers from providing this treatment or referring minors to other health care providers.

“Arkansas’ law is not based on widely-accepted medical standards, and it jeopardizes the physical and mental health of transgender adolescents,” Raoul said in a press release. “Transgender teens deserve access to gender-affirming care, and I am committed to opposing misguided attempts to deny them of that right.”

In April 2021, the Arkansas General Assembly passed the measure to prohibit health care professionals from providing gender-affirming treatments to transgender teenagers. The law also bans providers from issuing teen patients referrals for such treatment. Health care providers who fail to comply with the law could lose their professional licenses or face other professional discipline. In July 2021, a district court blocked the law from taking effect and barred Arkansas’ attorney general from enforcing any of its provisions while litigation is pending.

Arkansas is the only state with a law banning medical treatments prescribed for gender transition. The attorneys general stated that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The coalition also said that the law goes against medical standards and interferes with decisions made by medical professionals and patients.

The Trevor Project in December published a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health that found gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) is significantly related to lower rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts among transgender and nonbinary youth. In a separate study, the Trevor Project also found that acceptance of trans and non-binary youth reduced the risk of suicide.

A University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign study found that gender-diverse youth in Illinois were three times as likely to be bullied as their peers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that transgender students were more likely to report being threatened or injured with a weapon at school, experiencing sexual dating violence, physical dating violence, bullying at school, electronic bullying, and feeling unsafe at or traveling to or from school.

Joining Illinois in filing the amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

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