Arkansas could become first state to ban gender-affirming treatment for youth

Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (WMC) - Arkansas could become the first state in the nation to ban gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth.

A similar bill is being considered in Tennessee.

The bill that passed the Arkansas State Senate on Monday is now sitting on Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.

Hutchinson has not indicated if he will sign the bill.

HB1570 would ban gender-affirming care for minors, including sex reassignment surgery and puberty blockers. It would also prohibit doctors from referring trans youth to other health providers.

More: Mid-South states pass controversial bills impacting transgender community

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Alan Clark, R-Garland County, says say it’s meant to protect children from treatment they could later regret.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh I care, I care,’” said Clark. “But caring as a father, caring as a youth pastor, caring as a state senator, sometimes means saying I love you, but this is not the right thing. Not for minors.”

Opponents say the bill will cause harm to trans youth.

“Being trans is a blessing. It’s a blessing that scares people who are born without it,” said Rumba Yambu, the director of Intransitive, an Arkansas-based group that supports trans people.

They’re calling on Hutchinson to veto the bill.

“We want every trans kid in Arkansas and every trans adult to know that we’re working and strategizing, around the clock to fight these bills,” said Yambu.

Tennessee lawmakers are considering a similar bill to severely restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth.

The Tennessee bill would ban gender-affirming care for children before puberty and would only allow it during post-puberty if three doctors signed off on it, including a psychiatrist.

“Children...frequently think they want to do a lot of things that time, experience, wisdom, and advice from others change their minds,” said Tennessee State Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, the bill’s author.

The Tennessee House also passed a bill Monday that opponents call anti-trans.

It requires warning signs to be placed outside restrooms if more than one biological sex can use it.

“It’s very shocking and dangerous to people if they walk into a restroom and it’s marked men or women and the opposite sex is standing there,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Tim Rudd, R- Murfreesboro. “It could scare them. It could provoke violence.”

Rudd says it would not apply to restrooms in which only one person is allowed inside at once.

Opponents say the bill tries to address a problem that doesn’t exist.

“I don’t think the business community is for this. I think it’s unwise legislation as evidence that it exists nowhere else in the world,” said Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.

The measure passed the Tennessee House by a vote of 62-25.

More: Tennessee House votes to send bill banning transgender athletes to governor’s desk

Governors in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas also recently signed legislation banning transgender female athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports.

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