LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas House and Senate overrode Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of House Bill 1570 Tuesday. The bill is an anti-transgender law aimed at denying medically-necessary, gender-affirming services to transgender youth.
This is the first bill of its kind to become law in the United States. There are so far 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the nation. Of those, 101 directly target transgender people and 30 would, like HB 1570, deny medically-necessary services and gender-affirming care to transgender youth.
“Despite opposition from even their own anti-LGBTQ governor, Arkansas legislators have denied transgender children access to medically-necessary and age-appropriate health care,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David.
“This is the first law of its kind anywhere in the country, and it is immeasurably cruel to the transgender children who already suffer from higher risks of anxiety, depression, body dysphoria, and suicidal ideation and for whom those risks will only increase without medical care. This broadly unpopular bill is anti-science and dismisses the medical expertise of a wide range of child welfare advocates, ” he said.
“Arkansas legislators, against the will of Governor Hutchinson, are not only inviting irreparable harm to their state’s transgender youth, but also economic and reputational consequences to all Arkansans,” David added.
The Republican-controlled House and Senate voted to override Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the measure Monday, 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. The law is poised to take effect in late July at the earliest. In a media statement, the American Civil Liberties Union said it planned to challenge the measure before then.
“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.
“This discriminatory bill, peddled by national anti-equality extremists is a cruel and shameful way for legislators to score political points by targeting transgender youth who are simply trying to navigate their adolescense,” said HRC Arkansas State Manager Eric Reece.
“Transgender youth deserve to be included and accepted, especially as we see an uptick in fatal violence against transgender people across the country. We need to end this epidemic and ensure that all transgender Arkansans have access to the life-saving, gender affirming medical care they need.”