A US federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a law in the state of Arkansas that denies transgender minors access to hormonal treatments or surgical operations.
Judge James Moody in federal court in Little Rock, Arkansas granted the plaintiffs -- four transgender youths, their parents and two doctors -- a preliminary injunction stopping the law from coming into effect until a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measure has been resolved.
"We are going to fight this law, as far and as long as we need to, to make sure that no young person in Arkansas has to worry about losing their medical care," said attorney Chase Strangio of the powerful American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The law, which had been set to go into effect on July 28, forbids any medical professional from providing treatment to minors who do not recognize themselves by their biological sex, or from referring them to other specialists.
To approve the measure, lawmakers in this southern US state -- known as a stronghold of Christian conservatives -- had to overcome the veto of Governor Asa Hutchinson, who said the measure was an overreach by authorities.
The law's authors claimed the measure was aimed at protecting young people from a choice they might regret later, even if hormonal treatments -- including puberty blockers -- are often reversible.
Critics said the law is part of an offensive by conservatives against transgender people, and would have deprived young people of the care that allows them to thrive.
"We have seen the benefits of this health care first hand. Our children are suffering. And with this care, they have a level of hope and happiness, we've ever seen," said Joanna Brandt, speaking after the hearing with her son Dylan standing at her side.
"We are no different than any other parent in Arkansas. We love our kids, we want them to grow up healthy loved and safe."