Arkansas became on Tuesday the first state in the country to ban medical treatments for transgender minors.
The state’s mostly Republican legislature voted to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of House Bill 1570, which limits access to certain treatments for youth younger than 18 years old. The new law prohibits doctors from providing gender confirming hormone therapy, puberty blockers or gender-confirmation surgeries or from referring patients to other health care providers.
On Monday, Republican lawmakers in North Carolina introduced Senate Bill 514, which would prevent medical professionals from providing practices and health care services to transgender youth younger than 21 years old. It also defines the sex of a person as “genetically encoded into a person at the moment of conception, and it cannot be changed.”
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Fourteen other states introduced 22 bills this year restricting transgender youths’ access to certain medical procedures, according toFreedom for All Americans, a bipartisan LGBTQ advocacy campaign. Twenty-one bills are still being considered:
- Alabama HB 1, SB 10: “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act” prohibits gender confirmation therapy for minors and medical treatment without parental consent.
- Florida HB 935: “Vulnerable Child Protection Act”criminalizes transgender surgical procedures and medical treatments.
- Georgia HB 401: Vulnerable Child Protection Act” prevents health care professionals from performing transgender medical procedures on minors.
- Kansas SB 214: “Making it a crime for a physician to perform gender reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy on certain children” criminalizes providing transgender medical treatment to minors.
- Kentucky HB 477: “An Act relating to parental consent for transgender healthcare services” prohibits transgender health care services for minors without parental consent.
- Louisiana SB 104: “Provides relative to gender therapy and minors” prohibits consent of minors to receive gender therapy and requires parental consent under certain circumstances.
- Missouri SB 442: “Modifies provisions relating to gender reassignment treatment for children” prohibits transgender medical treatment to anyone younger than 18.
- Montana HB 427: “An Act Providing for Youth Health Protection Laws” prohibits health care providers from performing gender confirmation procedures on minors.
- New Hampshire HB 68: “Relative to the definition of child abuse” adds gender confirmation treatments and surgery to the definition of child abuse.
- Oklahoma SB 676: “An Act relating to crime and punishment; making certain medical treatment unlawful; providing definition; providing for certain penalty; providing for codification; and providing an effective date” prohibits transgender medical procedures for anyone younger than 21 years old.
- South Carolina H4047: “SC Minor Child Compassion and Protection Act” criminalizes transgender medical treatments for minors with some exceptions.
- Tennessee HB0578: Acts to amend prior bills prohibiting gender confirmation therapy without parental consent to prepubescent minors and minors who have entered puberty.
- Texas HB 4014, SB 1646, HB 2693, HB 1399, HB 68: Prohibits gender confirmation procedures for minors; classifies transgender medical procedures as child abuse.
- Utah HB 92: “Medical Practice Amendments” prohibits medical professionals from performing transgender procedures on a minor.
Arkansas’ new law
In Arkansas, Hutchinson reportedly expected the override vote, which was split 72-25 in the House and 25-8 in the Senate.
The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Elm Springs defended the override, saying the law protects minors from adult decisions they aren’t ready for.
“Those who claim otherwise are not being honest, and either haven’t read the bill or are placing fundraising above the best interest of children,” Lundstrum said.
Top medical organizations such as the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association and leading medical associations in Arkansas came out against the bill. Some experts say it will detrimentally affect a community at risk for depression and suicide.
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The bill was not Hutchinson’s first decision on transgender rights within the state. The governor signed a law banning transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity last month — weeks after Mississippi lawmakers passed a law preventing transgender athletes from playing on girls and women’s sports teams.
The new Arkansas laws passed months after President Joe Biden rescinded former President Donald Trump’s policy banning transgender people from serving in the military. The repeal was one of Biden’s first acts in office.
Biden also enforced a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression through an executive order.
Access to transgender health services and medical procedures “dramatically (reduces) depression and suicidal ideation,” the ACLU argues. The organization cites several medical professionals and health care organizations in a recent article opposing restrictions in the Arkansas bill.
“(Transgender youth) know who they are, and they know who they are from a very young age,” Dr. Michele Hutchinson, a pediatric endocrinologist said during an Arkansas Senate hearing on HB 1570. “I guarantee you, if this bill passes children will die and I will call you guys every single time one does.”
Contributing: The Associated Press