Governor’s veto overridden, gender-confirming treatments for minors now banned in Ark.

Arkansas becomes the first state to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth.
Arkansas becomes the first state to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for...
Arkansas becomes the first state to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth.((Source: KARK))
Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 2:46 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - The Arkansas House and Senate both voted to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of HB1570, making the bill law.

Gov. Hutchinson vetoed HB1570 on Monday.

The Arkansas House voted 71-24 to override Hutchinson’s veto, and the Arkansas Senate voted 25-8 with 2 “leave,” to override the veto.

Arkansas becomes the first state to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth.

House Bill 1570 will take effect 90 days after the Arkansas General Assembly recesses. They’re scheduled for recess on April 30.

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

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas condemned Tuesday’s veto.

“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. We are hearing from concerned families all over the state who are afraid about the impact of this bill and others like it. We are committed to doing all we can to support these families and ensure they know how to continue to fight for their rights and get the care and resources they need. “No matter what these politicians do or say, one thing has not changed: trans youth are loved, they are seen, and we will never stop fighting to defend their dignity, their rights and their lives. To everyone who spoke out against this bill: now is the time to stay loud, not only for trans lives, but for all the fundamental rights that politicians are hellbent on attacking.”

Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director

“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.”

Chase Stangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU's LGBTQ & HIV Project

When Governor Hutchinson vetoed the bill, some in the transgender community were pleasantly surprised by the decision, including former A-State student Dean Mosley.

But the surprise didn’t last long.

“After that surprise wore off, I was ecstatic, but only for [a second],” Mosley said. “I know the fight isn’t quite over. These kids still have a lot to go through.”

After the House and Senate voted to override the veto Tuesday, Amelia Arquette, a transgender woman, said the bill passing would only drive the state further apart.

“First of all, this whole thing has been terrifying,” Arquette said. “It’s going to stimulate hatred, it does not give me a lot of faith for the community I’m in right now.”

Arquette and Mosley want to see change.

“I knew I was trans whenever I was six and I spent so many years of my life hiding that,” Arquette said. “Growing up in this community, I was convinced that being transgender was the absolute last thing that I could possibly be... We need for our cisgender allies to actually step up.”

Family Council President Jerry Cox issued a statement saying, “This is really good news.”

“This is really good news. Gender-reassignment surgeries can leave children sterilized and scarred for life. Medical researchers do not know the long term effects these procedures and therapies can have on kids. That is why many people equate them with experimenting on children. This good legislation will protect Arkansas’ children from sex-reassignment procedures.”

Jerry Cox, Family Council President

In a Monday news conference, Hutchinson said, “This is a government overreach. You are starting to let lawmakers interfere with healthcare and set a standard for legislation overriding healthcare.” The state should not presume to jump into every ethical health decision,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson left the door open for the bill to be changed, “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,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson says the bill was overbroad, restricted people’s decisions, and sent a message about Arkansas that he did not want to send.

Hutchinson said the Arkansas legislature may override his veto, but hoped the conservative Republican legislature to rethink the issue again before acting.

Hutchinson said, “Part of the Republican base is a restrained government but sometimes you have to pull back and ask “Is this the role of the state?”

Hutchinson noted that fewer than 200 kids are on therapies right now. He questioned what would happen to those children if HB1570 becomes law.

“It hurts my heart to think about that,” Hutchinson said.

The bill prohibits doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment or surgery to minors, including prescribing medications.

The measure drew criticism from medical and child welfare groups who said it would further marginalize trans youth.

Arkansas-based group inTRANSitive helped lead a campaign urging Governor Hutchinson to veto HB1570.

Shortly after the governor’s announcement, they turned their focus to Arkansas lawmakers, who will decide whether to override the governor’s veto.

“The fight is not over yet!” the group said on its social media pages. “The Senate and House will vote as soon as tomorrow to override the veto! Let’s make sure they all hear from us! Keep the pressure!”

BREAKING: Gov. Asa Hutchinson has veto HB1570 !!! We all did this folks!! Inside and outside Arkansas people mobilized...

Posted by Intransitive on Monday, April 5, 2021

The ban was enacted during a year in which two other bills targeting transgender people, have advanced easily in Arkansas.

Hutchinson recently signed legislation banning transgender women and girls from competing on teams consistent with their gender identity. Two other states, Tennessee and Mississippi, passed similar laws.

Hutchinson also signed legislation this session that allows doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral or religious objections.

Former A-State Rugby player Dean Mosley is a transgender man who recently spoke to Region 8 News about the bill going to the governor’s desk and what it could mean to transgender teens in Arkansas. “I feel like the government is saying like kill yourself. We would rather you do that than exist inside of our state,” Mosley said.

“As long as there is an opposition, we’re going to be out here fighting,” Mosley added. “It’s not just me, it’s not just trans people out there fighting for you, there are lots of other people we have, lots of allies who are going to make sure that you guys survive.”

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