Experts Defend Arkansas’ Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act

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The battle for “gender transitions” for minors is being played out in dozens of American states. Some states are seeking to ban cross-sex hormones and transgender surgeries. California Governor Gavin Newsom, meanwhile, hopes to make his state a “magnet” for minors seeking these procedures.

Arkansas State Rep. Robin Lundstrum, a Republican, introduced the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act in February 2021. The SAFE Act became state law in April of that year after lawmakers overruled a veto by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, also a Republican. Hutchinson described the SAFE Act as a “vast excess of government” by the Arkansas General Assembly, arguing that it would add “legislative interference” between doctors and parents.

“One thing that needs to be emphasized is that Arkansas’ SAFE Act and similar bills do not preclude adult decisions,” Quena Gonzalez, senior director of government affairs at the Family Research Council, told the Daily Signal. . “It’s about minors.”

The Arkansas law, which the Family Research Council first modeled, prohibits transgender proceedings for minors, but does not criminalize them. Instead, it creates strong legal remedies for victims who later decide to sue.

The bill states that Arkansas has “a compelling governmental interest in protecting the health and safety of its citizens, especially vulnerable children.” He adds, “Only a small percentage of the American population finds it difficult to identify with their biological sex.”

The Arkansas law reflects a concern that “gender-affirming” interventions could short-circuit the natural resolution of most gender dysphoria in adolescents.

“At least 11 studies demonstrate that prior to society-wide transgender propaganda, the vast majority of children with transgender beliefs adopted their genetic sex and body as adults,” said Dr. Michelle Cretella , former executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, told the Daily Signal. “It proves that the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and mutilating surgeries are not necessary for young transbelievers to live as transgender activists claim.”

Before the SAFE Act could go into effect as scheduled on July 28, 2021, U.S. District Judge Jay Moody temporarily banned the law at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union. The group filed a lawsuit on behalf of four families of young transgender people and two doctors.

In August of this year, a panel of three judges from the 8e The United States Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Moody’s preliminary injunction.

Moody, a President Barack Obama appointee, is now presiding over a two-part trial to determine the fate of the SAFE Act. Families of the trans-identified youths and doctors testified against her during the first week of the trials, which began on October 17. The second part of the trial is expected to take place in November.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Karasic, who testified against the SAFE Act, claimed that a patient’s mental health deteriorates if they are prevented for any reason from receiving sex reassignment treatments. According to Karasic, this may include an increase in suicidal ideation or substance abuse, as a CDC report claims.

Dr. Michele Hutchison, former medical director of the Gender Spectrum Clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, also testified in court during the October hearings. Hutchison has previously testified against the SAFE Act.

“By the time this bill passed the House, these kids heard about it,” she said in the Arkansas General Assembly last year. “I had several children in the ER due to a suicide attempt last week.”

Hutchison – no relation to the governor – said a number of children had called her to tell her they would kill themselves if the SAFE Act became law. “I guarantee you…if this bill passes, children will die,” she said.

A parent of a 17-year-old who identifies as trans said in her testimony: “As a parent, I never imagined that I would have to fight for my daughter to receive the medically necessary health care that her doctor says she needs it, and we know she needs it.

Cretella, contradicting these claims, told the Daily Signal, “The standard of care for suicidal thoughts includes counseling and, if appropriate, antidepressants, not puberty blockers or hormones.”

She added:

Young people with transgender beliefs are no more likely to attempt suicide than any other high-risk group of young people. For example, a report from the UK found that transgender belief increases the risk of suicide in young people by a factor of 13, which is comparable to other mental illnesses, such as depression and anorexia nervosa.

Depression alone increases the risk of suicide by a factor of 20, and anorexia alone increases the risk of suicide in young people by a factor of 18.

Dr Jennifer Bauwens, director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Family Studies and a trauma clinician, told the Daily Signal: “From my perspective, being in the field of psychology and being in the field of research in this area, I look at this body of work and I am flabbergasted.

Bauwens said doctors cannot claim any causal link between lack of access to sex reassignment treatment and suicide.

“When we look at suicide…in the psychological realm, just in general,” she said, “no one is claiming that we know that if you have this particular condition it will lead someone to commit suicide.”

“We have risk factors,” Bauwens added. “We know that if someone is depressed,…abused, or has been through a traumatic event…it could indicate that they are more likely to commit suicide.”

But that’s not conclusive, she says: “There’s nothing in the psychological realm that gives that kind of causal link.”

Reflecting on her time working for a suicide prevention hotline, Bauwens said it’s medical malpractice for a clinician or doctor to say, “If you don’t do the transition, you will commit suicide.”

Gonzalez of the Family Research Council addressed the claim that sex reassignment treatments are a necessary medical procedure.

“I can see how immensely relieved people would be at the hope and prospect that they are entering into something that will be a ‘new normal,'” he told the Daily Signal. “I think the proof…is that this ‘new normal’ is a mirage and won’t last.”

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a prepared statement on the SAFE Act lawsuit that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are experimental and permanent.

“The [Food and Drug Administration] never endorsed the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to arrest the normal biological development of a child,” she wrote.

Rutledge explained: “It’s about protecting children. Nothing in this law prohibits someone after the age of 18 from making this decision. What we do in Arkansas is protect children from permanent life-altering decisions.

Cretella, commenting on so-called puberty blockers, told the Daily Signal that leaflets for Lupron, America’s leading puberty blocker, and for cross-sex hormones “warn that these drugs cause emotional lability, worsening psychiatric illnesses or new-onset mental illness.

“Puberty is not a disease,” she said.

The absence of puberty is a recognized disease. (This is called hypogonadotropic hypogonadism). By definition, using puberty blockers to disrupt the normal causes of puberty [that disease]. …

Even temporary use of puberty blockers can cause permanent damage, as normal developmental time is lost forever!

Studies show that young people on blockers lose normal bone density (they will have osteoporosis in their [20s] rather than well beyond age 50), do not undergo normal brain development and lack normal psychosocial milestones.

Gonzalez cited disclosure forms that some gender clinics have posted on their websites. They warn that “medicine does not know, and science does not know, the effect of a lifetime of estrogen or testosterone administration on cross-sex hormone levels.”

These are levels of “erroneous sex hormones, never found in the natural population,” he explained. “These are serious experiments that we conduct on children.”

Karasic, Hutchison and the ACLU did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for further comment at the time of publication.

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