Reason Roundup

Arkansas Ban on Gender Transition Treatments for Minors Hits Federal Court

Plus: Rethinking "zombie cells," Truth Social whistleblower speaks out, and more...


Bans on gender transition treatments for minors are in federal court this week. Such laws are becoming popular among conservative legislators across the U.S. The law in court this week comes from Arkansas, which in 2021 passed the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act, a.k.a. Act 626.

Arkansas' Act 626 was the first in the country to prohibit doctors from providing "gender transition" care—which includes surgical procedures as well as less invasive options like puberty blockers and hormone treatments—to people under age 18. "Any referral for or provision of gender transition procedures to an individual under eighteen (18) year of age is unprofessional conduct and is subject to discipline by the appropriate licensing entity or disciplinary review board," states the law, which allows people to cite "an actual or threatened violation" of the law as a claim in civil lawsuits. It also allows the state attorney general to enforce compliance and states that health insurance plans "shall not include reimbursement for gender transition procedures for a [minor]."

A group of doctors, parents, and transgender kids has challenged the law in federal court. They're represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas.

The case comes before U.S. District Judge James Moody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. In July 2021, Moody temporarily halted enforcement of the law.

The state appealed, and this past August the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit upheld the injunction. "The 8th Circuit panel agreed transgender children would suffer irreparable harm if the law took effect," reports the Arkansas Advocate. "The appellate panel also agreed with Moody that the law likely discriminated against Arkansans on the basis of sex."

The case is now back before Moody, with the trial expected to last throughout this week.

Moody's decision could have big implications for the treatment of transgender minors far beyond Arkansas. Since the state passed Act 626, several more states—including Alabama and Arizona—have passed similar laws, while others have either defined gender transition treatment for minors as child abuse (Texas) or are attempting to do so (Michigan).

"In 2022, 15 states are considering 25 similar pieces of legislation," the Kaiser Family Foundation reported in June.


Rethinking "zombie cells." Some "zombie" cells—a nickname given to the senescent cells thought to cause age related diseases—may actually play a beneficial role in helping repair bodily damage, according to a new study published in the journal Science. Lead researcher Tien Pen, an associate professor of pulmonary, critical care, allergy, and sleep medicine at the University of California San Francisco, "said it was understandable that scientists at first viewed senescent cells as purely detrimental," according to a university press release:

As people age, senescent cells accumulate that have characteristics of old, worn-out cells, including the inability to make new cells.

Instead of dying like normal aged cells, they to live on, spewing a cocktail of inflammatory compounds that form the senescence associated secretory phenotype (SASP). These factors are linked to Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, and other age-related maladies including cancer.

The catchy name "zombie cells" was coined for them.

Using senolytics that target and kill "zombie cells," researchers made the exciting discovery that clearing senescent cells from animals thwarted or diminished age-related disease and extended the lifespan of the animals. Thereafter, a boom of activity ensued in research labs and pharmaceutical companies focused on discovering and refining more powerful versions of these drugs.

But killing off senescent cells has dangers, Peng said. For one thing, this current study showed that senescent cells also possess the ability to promote normal healing through activation of stem cell repair.

"Our study suggests that senolytics could adversely affect normal repair, but they also have the potential to target diseases where senescent cells drive pathologic stem cell behavior," said Peng.

You can find the full study here.


Trumpworld drama and cronyism reportedly plaguing Truth Social and Trump Media.  Trump Media should have been a major success. Executives imagined the company as a multifaceted endeavor, branching out into social media, payment processing, and other elements of digital life currently cornered by companies with little will to stand up to progressive pressure campaigns. There's a huge market for this—not just among the Trumpist right but among all sorts of people with heterodox views.

A lot of this was in the works already when the company tapped Trump to be the face of the brand. And perhaps that was their first mistake. While the former president provided publicity to the company and its social platform, Truth Social, he and his family have also caused a lot of headaches—and potential legal issues—according to whistleblower Will Wilkerson. Among Wilkerson's claims: Trump tried to force him to give some of his shares in the company to Melania Trump, and was retaliated against when he did not. A lengthy article in The Washington Post details this and other claims from Wilkerson, as well as why the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the company.

In related news, Kanye West is moving to buy the right-leaning social media platform Parler. "In a statement, Parler's parent company Parlement Technologies said it has entered into 'an agreement in principle' to sell Parler to Ye for an undisclosed amount," reports Axios.


• Hearing aids are now available over the counter.

• New cannabis shops are revolutionizing dispensary design.

• A congressional candidate in New York has deliberately released a sex tape as "a conversation piece." The candidate, Mike Itkis, is running as an independent on a platform that includes a "sex positive approach" to domestic policy. His issue positions include decriminalizing sex work and "actively oppos[ing] the conservative idea that sex should only happen between a man and a woman who are married to each other."

• Michigan's House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to crack down on fraudulent certification letters for emotional support animals. "The bill would require a provider-patient relationship of 30 days before receiving certification" and ongoing monitoring, reports The Detroit News. People providing a certificate outside these circumstances "could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense and up to $2,000 for a second offense."

• Climate activists decry "the expansion of energy supply, on the grounds that fossil fuels are pushing the world toward climate apocalypse, and the energy supply's constriction, on the grounds that higher prices are cruel to struggling households," writes Ross Douthat. But the two goals are in tension with one another.

• Republicans are gaining ground in midterm election polls.