The Arkansas legislature has overridden Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill denying gender-affirming health care to minors.
Similar bills are pending in several other states.
Hutchinson vetoed the original bill banning transgender health care for minors saying it was overly broad.
“If this was just to ban gender reassignment then I would support it, but those who are taking treatment are not grandfathered in, this is not the right path to put them on.”
“While the population of minors dealing with this is an extreme minority, this could lead to significant harms from suicide to drug use to isolation.”
This bill bans hormone treatments and puberty blockers as well as gender-confirmation surgeries, which many doctors do not recommend for minors.
Yesterday the Arkansas House of Representatives voted 71-24 to override Hutchinson’s veto, and the Arkansas Senate voted 25-8 to do so.
Civil rights groups immediately condemned the legislature’s action. Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas said in a statement,
“Today Arkansas legislators disregarded widespread, overwhelming, and bipartisan opposition to this bill and continued their discriminatory crusade against trans youth.
As Governor Hutchinson noted in his veto message, denying care to trans youth can lead to harmful and life-threatening consequences. This is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over — and we’re in it for the long haul. Attempting to block trans youth from the care they need simply because of who they are is not only wrong, it’s also illegal, and we will be filing a lawsuit to challenge this law in court.
Chase Stangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project said,
“The Arkansas Legislature has ignored dozens of local doctors and national medical experts, as well as trans youth and their parents.
This bill will drive families, doctors and businesses out of the state and send a terrible and heartbreaking message to the transgender young people who are watching in fear. Gender-affirming care is life-saving care and banning that care will have devastating and in some cases deadly consequences. Trans youth in Arkansas: We will continue to fight for you. The ACLU is preparing litigation as we speak. ACLU supporters from around the country spoke out against this bill. We will always have your back and will be relentless in our defense of your rights.”
Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, issued this statement;
“To the transgender and nonbinary youth of Arkansas, please know that you deserve love and support and to be affirmed in your gender identity. We will not stop fighting until this cruel and illegal ban is overturned.“
“Governor Hutchinson listened to trans youth and their doctors, the state legislature clearly did not….”
This makes Arkansas the first state to approve such a law.
The ACLU said they were preparing a lawsuit
“as we speak.”