Political commentator Jon Stewart isn’t a lawyer, but he did a masterful takedown of an Arkansas law preventing gender-affirming medical care for children ― and he did it right to the face of the state’s attorney general.
Although a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit temporarily blocked the state from enforcing the 2021 law in August, a trial is scheduled this month on whether to permanently block the law.
But Attorney General Leslie Rutledge couldn’t put up much of a defense during an interview with Stewart for his Apple TV series, “The Problem With Jon Stewart,” based on the clip below.
“Why would the state of Arkansas step in to override parents, physicians, psychiatrists, endocrinologists who have developed guidelines. Why would you override those guidelines?” the TV host, writer and comedian asked Rutledge.
The Arkansas attorney general responded that for every single one of the experts Stewart cited, “there’s another expert to say we don’t need to allow children to take those medications.”
“But you know that’s not true,” Stewart said. “You know it’s not ‘for every one, there’s one.’”
Rutledge then claimed that there were many people who testified before the state legislature who said “98% of the young people who have gender dysphoria ... are able to move past that. And once they have the help that they need, they no longer suffer from gender dysphoria. 98%.”
Stewart was skeptical.
“Wow,” Stewart said sarcastically. “That’s an incredibly made-up figure. That doesn’t comport with any of the studies or documentation that exists from these medical organizations. What medical association are you talking about?”
Rutledge didn’t expect to be questioned on the dubious statistic.
“We have all of that in our legislative history, and we’ll be glad to provide that to you. I don’t have the name of that off the top of my head,” Rutledge said.
She also couldn’t name experts and medical associations that would back her ban, claiming she didn’t expect “a Supreme Court debate.”
Rutledge also had trouble explaining why she, as the parent of a 4-year-old, would take a doctor’s advice if her child had cancer but not if the youngster had gender dysphoria.
Stewart couldn’t help but mock Rutledge’s defense of the ban.
“You’re making it sound like a 9-year-old walks into a doctor’s office and says, ‘Give me some testosterone,’ and the doctor goes, ‘Oh, thank God, because we’re wanting to create an army of transgenders ― because we’re crazy,’” Stewart said at one point.
Many Twitter users praised Stewart’s probing questions.