Despite recently agreeing to use Alaska’s public funds to pay for transgender surgeries and cross-sex hormones – including for children – Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration is now supporting an Arkansas law that bans doctors from offering puberty blockers, hormones or gender reassignment surgeries to minors who are confused about their sexual identity.
Earlier this month, Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor signed a multi-state amicus brief in U.S. District court in support of an Arkansas law – Save Adolescents from Experimentation – which was passed in April. It is currently being challenged by the ACLU, and the courts have blocked implementation of the law until the case is resolved.
The amicus brief expresses concern about minors who suffer from gender confusion.
Alaska’s decision to support the Arkansas law comes after Dunleavy decided in June to tap Alaska’s Medicaid funds to pay for transgender surgeries and hormones, even for minors.
“Spend just a little time with the scientific literature in this field and a few things become abundantly clear: the science in this area 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,” the attorneys general state.
Alaska’s decision to support the Arkansas law comes after Dunleavy decided in June to allow Alaska’s Medicaid funds to be used to pay for transgender surgeries and hormones even for minors – the very thing the Arkansas law is attempting to ban. Dunleavy’s Communication Director Dave Stieren claimed that Alaska had to settle in federal court with plaintiffs who demanded that the state pay for the procedures because the administration did not think the U.S. Supreme Court would allow the state to continue to refuse to underwrite them.
Earlier this month, Stieren told radio host Bob Bird that Alaska initially tried to defend its existing regulations that prohibit using state funds for such purposes. The Dunleavy administration changed course last summer, however, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in a completely separate lawsuit – Bostock v. Clayton County.
Hailed as a landmark case by LGBTQ activists, the court decided 6-3 in Bostock that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – dealing with sex-based discrimination in the workplace – also applied to those who identify as gay or transgender.
While the Alaska lawsuit had nothing to do with employment, Stieren said the Supreme Court ruling dealt with “much of the same issues” Alaska was facing in its lower federal court case.
“As the opinion was given by the U.S. Supreme Court, you know, our legal team looked around and said, ‘Well hell, this is exactly why we’re in court. Well, we’re just going to be overruled in a matter of weeks anyway,’” Stieren said in attempting to explain why the state agreed to foot the bill for transgender procedures. “And so, we halted the court proceedings.”
The attorneys general condemn transexual procedures for causing greater harm and confusion in the long run.
Stieren claimed that the Supreme Court decision made Alaska’s argument “moot.” It is not so “moot,” however as to keep Alaska from supporting another state that is willing to fight for its right to deny these very same experimental procedures.
Grace Lee, an assistant attorney general for the State of Alaska, said the state supports the Arkansas law because Alaska “has an interest in defending the broad authority of states to govern for public health and safety.”
“This authority certainly extends to areas involving medical procedures, especially as it relates to children,” Lee said in an email to the Watchman. “The duly elected officials of each state should have broad authority in this area to pass laws they feel are in the best interest of the people or their respective states.”
When asked if the state believed a successful outcome in the Arkansas case would impact Alaska’s practice of providing transgender treatments, Lee said a victory would uphold state autonomy and authority to make such policy calls.
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“How Alaska should proceed in the event that Arkansas is successful in this litigation is a policy decision for the Alaska Legislature,” Lee said.
When asked if Alaska’s new policy provides public funds for minors to receive transgender surgeries and hormonal treatments, Lee said that decision is made by the recipient’s medical team in consultation with patients, parents and guardians, if the recipient is a minor.
The brief, which Attorney General Treg signed, notes that the large majority of youth grow out of their gender confusion, and that it is irresponsible to offer confused minors powerful drugs or surgeries that have life-long consequences.
The brief warns against the many health complications that result from transgender treatments. These include infertility, loss of sexual function, increased risks of heart attacks, bone density problems, altered brain development, serious mental health concerns and more. The attorneys general condemn transexual procedures for causing greater harm and confusion in the long run.
“There is very little reason to think that a child in early adolescence can properly weigh these lifetime risks,” the attorneys generals argued.