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Arkansas bans transition care for transgender minors

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 06 April 2021 21:35 BST
Related: Biden overturns Trump’s ban on transgender military service members
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Transition care for transgender minors will be outlawed in Arkansas after the state senate voted on Tuesday to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of HB1570, a move that sparked immediate vows for legal retaliation from civil rights groups.

The bill, which effectively bans medical workers from providing hormone replacement therapy or gender-affirming surgeries to trans youth, was set to take effect after the senate successfully overrode the governor’s objections this week. 

It’s the first law of its kind in the United States, a clear reflection of the anti-trans movement sweeping through conservative media outlets and states across the country.

Republican-led legislatures have sought to restrict transgender athletes from participating in school sports, denying funding to entities providing medical services for transgender patients and more in recent months, even as Republicans like Mr Hutchinson describe such measures as “extreme”. 

Advocates and coalitions of human rights groups have rebuked the Arkansas bill, otherwise called the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE)” Act, and others like it, while noting the tangible impact such measures have on trans youth. A growing pool of scientific research has shown trans youth who receive access to transitionary care are less likely to self-harm or have thoughts of suicide. 

Trans youth who do not receive transitional care are also more likely to report cases of depression compared to children under the age of 15 who are provided gender-affirming medical services like hormone blockers.

The ban was opposed by several medical and child welfare groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The measure’s sponsor referred to the procedures as experimentation and compared the restriction to other limits the state places on minors.

“They need to get to be 18 before they make those decisions,” Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum said. Mr Hutchinson said the measure went too far in interfering with parents and physicians, and noted that it will cut off care for transgender youth already receiving treatment.

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He said he would have signed the bill if it had focused only on gender confirming surgery, which currently isn’t performed on minors in the state.

“This is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over — and we’re in it for the long haul,” Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas’ executive director, said in a statement.

The override, which needed only a simple majority, passed easily in both chambers, with House voting 72-25 in favor and the Senate 25-8.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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