Testimony continues in Arkansas transgender care trial

Supporters of Act 626 said it is needed to protect children from procedures who are too young...
Supporters of Act 626 said it is needed to protect children from procedures who are too young to make life-altering decisions.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 9:06 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK/KAIT) - Testimony continued Wednesday over a lawsuit challenging Arkansas’ decision to ban transgender healthcare for its youth.

According to content partner KARK, the trial addresses Act 626, which was passed in March 2021.

Supporters of the act said it is needed to protect children from procedures who are too young to make life-altering decisions.

West Memphis physiatrist Dr. Roger Hiatt first took the stand on Nov. 30. He previously practiced at Centers for Youth and Families in Arkansas.

Hiatt testified to having worked with at least 200 children diagnosed with gender dysphoria, however, he added that was not the main reason they were referred to him.

“We work with the kids and watch and wait to see what’s going to happen with their gender identity. It is not the reason they came to the hospital,” he explained.

Many objections came during the direct examination, claiming the doctor’s answers about gender-affirming care were outside his expertise.

Hiatt expressed most of his patients come to him for “suicidal, homicidal or safety issues” and they do not come to him for help with gender dysphoria.

Laura Beth Smaltz was next to speak. She mentioned she had previously gone by Laura Beth Perry and Jacob Nathan Perry.

Smaltz testified she identified as male from 2007 to 2016.

“I pictured myself as a male for most of my childhood,” she said. “I just remember feeling that way. I didn’t have a good relationship with my mom, and I was jealous of my brother’s relationship with my mom.”

Smaltz went on to say how she discovered living as transgender, went to therapy, was placed on testosterone, and underwent top surgery and a hysterectomy.

However, as time went on, Smaltz testified she regrets the decision she had made.

“It wasn’t really solving anything. It wasn’t making me a man. Even if I had the surgeries, this still isn’t real, this still isn’t going to make me a man,” she said. “I remembered the day I realized that I would never be able to father a child and I had never thought that through.”

During cross-examination, questions were asked that focused on Smaltz’s decision to de-transition and if religion had anything to do with her reidentifying as a female.

Testimony is expected to wrap up on Thursday, Dec. 1.