Arkansas becomes first state to ban gender-affirming treatment for trans youth

The Republican-controlled state House voted to override Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of HB 1570 on Tuesday afternoon, and the Republican-controlled Senate followed suit shortly after.

The action was quickly denounced by LGBTQ advocates, who vowed to mount a legal challenge against the law.

The Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act passed the state Senate late last month with a 28-7 vote. The state House passed it in early March with a 70-22 vote.

The bill makes what it calls an “exception” for some intersex people with unspecified chromosome makeup and hormone production, and those with difficulties resulting from prior gender-affirming treatments. It also prohibits so-called cross-hormone therapy, a gender-affirming treatment that allows trans people to change their physical appearance to be more consistent with their gender identity.

Hutchinson vetoed the legislation on Monday, calling it “a product of America’s culture war” and arguing that it creates “new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents by addressing some of the most complex and sensitive issues involving children. young people. “The governor told reporters after his veto that he hoped lawmakers would override it.

LGBTQ advocates and doctors strongly opposed the legislation, fearing it could have a significant negative impact on trans youth, who are at much higher risk of suicide, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .

Following the repeal, the American Civil Liberties Union said the new law “will drive families, doctors and businesses out of the state and send a terrible and heartbreaking message to transgender youth who are staring in fear.”

“The ACLU is preparing litigation as we speak,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director of transgender justice for the ACLU’s HIV and LGBTQ Project, in a statement.

This story is breaking and will be updated.


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