LITTLE ROCK: Before he began receiving hormone therapy eight months ago, Dylan Brandt felt insecure and out of place. Then the 15-year-old transgender boy started taking testosterone in August.
His mood improved, and his mother said he became more outgoing.
But in the coming months, Dylan and his family face a difficult choice. His home state, Arkansas, passed a law prohibiting gender confirming treatments for minors, the first state to do so.
“The thought of having to go back to how I was before this is just devastating because that would set me back on everything,” said Dylan, who lives in Greenwood, near the Oklahoma border. “I don’t want to go back.”
Unless opponents are successful in blocking it with a lawsuit, Arkansas’ ban will take effect late this summer. The measure prohibits doctors from providing gender confirming hormone therapy, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 or referring them to other doctors who provide that care.
It’s already created confusion, sadness and pain for hundreds of transgender youth, as well as their families and health care providers. With other states considering similar bans, it’s a preview of the difficult choices that other families could face around the country.
“My families are in a state of panic, asking what state should they move to, saying their child is threatening to kill themselves,” said Dr. Michele Hutchison, who runs a clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital that has served about 200 families and has a waiting list of several dozen more. “They want to know what they should do next and we don’t have a clear answer for them.”
Hutchison’s clinic is by far the biggest provider of hormone therapy and other medical support for transgender young people in the state. Gender confirming surgery is not performed on minors in Arkansas.
Since the bill was approved, four young people in Hutchison’s program have attempted suicide, she said. Other patients have called the clinic to ask if they’ll be able to get their medications on the black market if the ban takes effect.
“My fear is that’s going to happen,” she said.

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