Attorney General Bonta Files Amicus Brief in Support of Ruling Invalidating Arkansas’ Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Youth

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led 20 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, urging the court to affirm a district court ruling granting a permanent injunction against an Arkansas law banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Plaintiffs in Brandt et al. v. Griffin are suing to block Arkansas’ Act 626, which prohibits transgender youth from accessing to medical treatment such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers to treat gender dysphoria. Attorney General Bonta previously filed an amicus brief supporting the court’s initial ruling granting a preliminary injunction against Act 626. In today’s amicus brief, the coalition argues that Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care violates equal protection and stresses the importance of gender-affirming care for the health and well-being of transgender youth.

“Access to medical care is crucial to the well-being of communities across our nation, particularly marginalized communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Arkansas’ law banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth poses a serious threat to their physical, psychological, and emotional health. As we continue to ensure equal, uninterrupted care for youth suffering from gender dysphoria, we ask the court to reaffirm the district court’s decision invalidating Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue to stand up against any form of injustice that violates the rights of transgender individuals across the nation.”

On April 6, 2021, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 626, which bans healthcare providers from providing gender-affirming treatment to transgender teenagers and even providing referrals for such treatment. Under the law, healthcare providers who failed to comply could lose their professional license and be at risk of professional discipline. On July 21, 2021, a district court granted a motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the law, and in August, the court enjoined the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office from enforcing any provision of the Act during litigation of the case. Following affirmance of the preliminary injunction, the district court proceeded to hold a bench trial on the merits, where plaintiffs prevailed again when the district court permanently enjoined Arkansas’ law. Nevertheless, Arkansas’ officials appealed the court’s final decision. Today’s brief supports the plaintiffs in that appeal, defending the district court’s previous decision invalidating the law.

Many transgender teens suffer from gender dysphoria, which results from the incongruence between their gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Gender dysphoria has been found to cause severe distress and anxiety, depression, fatigue, decreased social functioning, substance misuse, and a poorer quality of life. Among transgender people, suicide attempts are nine times more common than in the overall U.S. population. Those risks are even higher among transgender youth.

In their amicus brief today, the coalition supported the plaintiffs' defense of the prior court order blocking the enforcement of the Act, arguing that the law:

  • Significantly harms the health and lives of transgender people by denying them medically necessary care that protects their physical, emotional, and psychological health.
  • Is discriminatory and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by banning medical treatment for transgender youth based on their sex and on their gender identity.
  • Fails to recognize how inclusive laws and policies — such as those in California — have benefited transgender individuals.
  • Does not withstand heightened scrutiny because a complete ban on medically necessary healthcare is not substantially related to Arkansas’ asserted interests.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ youth: 

  • Yesterday, Attorney General Bonta filed an amicus brief supporting a challenge by teachers, students, and parents to two Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees’ enactments that violate students’ constitutional and statutory rights.
  • Last week, Attorney General Bonta led 20 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in Dekker v. Weida in support of transgender rights and equal access to healthcare.
  • In November, Attorney General Bonta led 21 attorneys general in an amicus brief opposing a state law in Oklahoma, severely blocking the ability of transgender youth to access critical, lifesaving gender-affirming care.
  • In October, Attorney General Bonta secured a ruling from the San Bernardino Superior Court enjoining Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. The court held that such disclosure policies are likely to violate transgender and gender nonconforming students’ right to equal protection under the California Constitution and can result in irreparable harm to those students. Attorney General Bonta had previously secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the policy. The Superior Court’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General challenging the enforcement of CVUSD’s forced outing policy. Prior to filing the lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta opened a civil rights investigation into the legality of the CVUSD’s adoption of the policy. Prior to opening the investigation, Attorney General Bonta in July sent a letter to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education cautioning them of the dangers of adopting the forced outing policy and explaining that the policy potentially infringed on students' privacy rights and educational opportunities.
  • Attorney General Bonta has issued statements following Dry Creek Joint Elementary School DistrictRocklin Unified School DistrictAnderson Union High School District, and Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley Unified School District Boards’ decision to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policies targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming students. 
  • In October, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition in support of a Maryland board of education’s policy that permits schools to incorporate LGBTQ+-inclusive books into language arts curriculum to reflect the diversity of the school community.
  • In October, Attorney General Bonta joined a multistate amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the rights of transgender students in Doe v. Mukwonago Area School District, challenging a Wisconsin school board’s policy barring an 11-year-old transgender student from using the girls’ restroom based on her sex assigned at birth.
  • In October, Attorney General Bonta joined a multistate amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of plaintiffs in Doe v. Horne, challenging Arizona’s recently-enacted legislation prohibiting transgender students from participating on women’s and girls’ school athletic teams.
  • In September, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition of 20 attorneys general in opposing a state law in Indiana that severely blocks the ability of transgender youth to access critical, lifesaving gender-affirming care.
  • In August, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief opposing state laws in Kentucky and Tennessee restricting transgender youths' access to critical and lifesaving healthcare.
  • In June, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition in support of the Ludlow School Committee’s efforts to create a safe and supportive environment for transgender children and all students.
  • In May, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in supporting a challenge to a Florida rule restricting access to gender-affirming care and joined another multistate coalition defending a Colorado law that prohibits gay and transgender conversion therapy on children and youth.
  • In January, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition in support of a Maryland board of education’s efforts to create a safe and supportive environment for transgender children and all students.

In filing today’s amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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