A concerned father testifying at a hearing in the Arkansas statehouse against an anti-trans bill has spoken out about being arrested after speaking for more than their allotted time.
Chris Attig, who uses the pronouns they/them, was passionately defending the rights of teenagers and minors in the state to have access to gender-affirming medical care, as their now 22-year-old son had.
“It was just shocked sitting there in jail thinking that this is what happens when you speak to people about how their proposed laws are affecting your children,” Mr Attig told LGBT+ publication them on Tuesday. “They don’t want to hear it. They put you in jail.”
Adding to the outrageous sight of Mr Attig being handcuffed and removed from the hearing last month was that those speaking in favour of the bill were allowed to speak for up 40 minutes.
Only those against the bill were held to a two-minute time limit, LGBTQNation reports, while the Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research Council, classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, spoke for much longer.
“No matter what happens here today, you are loved,” Mr Attig said in their testimony in the 9 March hearing, addressing trans youth in the state.
Republican state representative Jack Ladyman interjected that Mr Attig’s time was up near the two-minute mark, but they persisted, intending to finish their speech.
After repeating that their time was up, lawmakers cut the mic, but they continued to talk, at which point security was instructed to remove them.
Mr Attig was taken to jail, held for several hours and now faces a charge of disorderly conduct.
House Bill 1570, the “Arkansas Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act”, banned medical professionals from providing gender-affirming healthcare of any kind to transgender minors. The ban includes hormone therapy, reversible puberty blockers, and surgery — though that is not performed on minors.
While the bill was passed by the legislature, it was vetoed by Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Mr Hutchinson said he believes the government should not be involved in medical decisions and “restraint is better than overbroad actions that interfere with important relationships in our society”.
The state legislature nevertheless overrode the veto.
Mr Attig worries that bills such as this send a message that it is permissible to attack transgender people.
Medical practitioners in Arkansas say they have been asked by parents which state they should now move to for treatment for their children.
They are also concerned that others may turn to the black market for hormone treatments that cannot be adequately monitored by professionals.
In recent comments to the Associated Press, the Arkansas Children’s Hospital reported that four trans youth attempted to end their lives after HB 1570 was signed into law.
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