The Saline Courier

Arkansas lawmakers enact transgende­r treatment ban

- By Andrew Demillo

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday made the state the first to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgende­r youth, enacting the prohibitio­n over the governor’s objections.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate voted to override GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the measure, which prohibits doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.

Opponents of the measure have vowed to sue to block the ban before it takes effect this summer.

Hutchinson vetoed the bill Monday following pleas from pediatrici­ans, social workers and the parents of transgende­r youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide. The ban was opposed by several medical and child welfare groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“This legislatio­n perpetuate­s the very things we know are harmful to trans youth,” Dr. Robert Garofalo, division head of adolescent and young adult medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, told reporters on a press conference call held by the Human Rights Campaign. “They’re not just anti-trans. They’re antiscienc­e. They’re anti-public health.”

The bill’s sponsor dismissed opposition from medical groups and compared the restrictio­n to other limits the state places on minors, such as prohibitin­g them from drinking.

“They need to get to be 18 before they make those decisions,” Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum said.

The Family Council, a conservati­ve group that backed the measure, praised lawmakers for enacting “historic legislatio­n.”

Hutchinson said the measure went too far in

In this April 8, 2020 photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson gives the State of the State in the senate chamber of the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Hutchinson vetoed legislatio­n that would have made his state the first to ban gender confirming treatments for transgende­r youth. interferin­g with parents and have advanced easily in Similar treatment physicians, and noted that it Arkansas and other states. bans have been proposed in will cut off care for transgende­r Hutchinson recently signed at least 20 states. youth already receiving legislatio­n banning transgende­r The foundation establishe­d treatment. He said he would women and girls by the family of have signed the bill if it had from competing on teams Bentonvill­e-based Walmart’s focused only on gender consistent with their gender founder on Tuesday raised confirming surgery, which identity, a prohibitio­n concerns about the recent currently isn’t performed on that also has been enacted measures in Arkansas targeting minors in the state. intennesse­e and Mississipp­i LGBTQ people.

“I do hope my veto will this year. “This trend is harmful and cause my Republican colleagues Hutchinson also recently sends the wrong message to across the country signed legislatio­n that allows those willing to invest in or to resist the temptation to doctors to refuse to treat visit our state,” Tom Walton put the state in the middle of someone because of moral with the Walton Family every decision made by parents or religious objections. Foundation said in a statement and health care profession­als,” And the Legislatur­e isn’t released before the Hutchinson said in showing signs of letting up. override vote. a statement after the vote. Another bill advanced by One lawmaker opposed

The law will take effect a House committee earlier to the measure compared in late July at the earliest. Tuesday would prevent it to the anti-integratio­n

The American Civil Liberties schools from requiring bills Arkansas’ Legislatur­e Union said it planned to teachers to refer to students passed in 1958 in opposition challenge the measure by their preferred pronouns to the previous year’s before then. or titles. desegregat­ion of Little Rock

“This is a sad day for The Human Rights Central High School. Arkansas, but this fight is Campaign, the nation’s largest “What I see, this bill, is not over — and we’re in it LGBTQ rights group, the most powerful again for the long haul,” Holly said more than 100 bills bullying the most vulnerable Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas’ have been filed in statehouse­s people in our state,” executive director, said in a around the country targeting Democratic Sen. Clarke statement. the transgende­r community. Tucker said before the vote.

The override, which needed only a simple majority, passed easily in both chambers, with the House voting 72-25 in favor and the

Senate 25-8.

The ban was enacted during a year in which bills targeting transgende­r people


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