LITTLE ROCK – In a televised appearance Monday, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he had vetoed HB 1570, legislation that would have made Arkansas the first state to ban gender confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth.
According to the Governor, the legislation “the bill was overbroad, restricted people’s decisions, and sent a message about Arkansas that he did not want to send.” Hutchinson also noted that his veto could be overridden by the legislature with a simple majority vote.
Journalist Chris Geidner, the Editorial Director and Senior Analyst at The Appeal on Twitter noted that “Gov. Hutchinson said specifically that he wants transgender people in the state to know they are loved. (Albeit, in an answer defending his signing of the other two pieces of legislation that subject trans people to differential treatment.)”
A measure allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral or religious objections was signed by the governor earlier last month that advocacy groups and human rights and LGBTQ+ equality groups have pointed out can be used to turn away LGBTQ patients.
This legislation, HB 1570, would have prohibited 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.
The Associated Press reported that Hutchinson’s veto followed 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.
It was the latest measure targeting transgender people that easily advanced in the Arkansas Legislature and other states this year. Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee’s governors have signed laws banning transgender girls and women from competing on school sports teams consistent with the gender identity.