LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - The Arkansas House and Senate both voted to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of HB1570, making the bill law.
Gov. Hutchinson vetoed HB1570 on Monday.
The Arkansas House voted 71-24 to override Hutchinson’s veto, and the Arkansas Senate voted 25-8 with 2 “leave,” to override the veto.
Arkansas becomes the first state to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth.
House Bill 1570 will take effect 90 days after the Arkansas General Assembly recesses. They’re scheduled for recess on April 30.
Opponents of the measure have vowed to sue to block the ban before it takes effect this summer.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas condemned Tuesday’s veto.
When Governor Hutchinson vetoed the bill, some in the transgender community were pleasantly surprised by the decision, including former A-State student Dean Mosley.
But the surprise didn’t last long.
“After that surprise wore off, I was ecstatic, but only for [a second],” Mosley said. “I know the fight isn’t quite over. These kids still have a lot to go through.”
After the House and Senate voted to override the veto Tuesday, Amelia Arquette, a transgender woman, said the bill passing would only drive the state further apart.
“First of all, this whole thing has been terrifying,” Arquette said. “It’s going to stimulate hatred, it does not give me a lot of faith for the community I’m in right now.”
Arquette and Mosley want to see change.
“I knew I was trans whenever I was six and I spent so many years of my life hiding that,” Arquette said. “Growing up in this community, I was convinced that being transgender was the absolute last thing that I could possibly be... We need for our cisgender allies to actually step up.”
Family Council President Jerry Cox issued a statement saying, “This is really good news.”
In a Monday news conference, Hutchinson said, “This is a government overreach. You are starting to let lawmakers interfere with healthcare and set a standard for legislation overriding healthcare.” The state should not presume to jump into every ethical health decision,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson left the door open for the bill to be changed, “If this was just to ban gender reassignment then I would support it, but those who are taking treatment are not grandfathered in, this is not the right path to put them on.”
“While the population of minors dealing with this is an extreme minority, this could lead to significant harms from suicide to drug use to isolation,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson says the bill was overbroad, restricted people’s decisions, and sent a message about Arkansas that he did not want to send.
Hutchinson said the Arkansas legislature may override his veto, but hoped the conservative Republican legislature to rethink the issue again before acting.
Hutchinson said, “Part of the Republican base is a restrained government but sometimes you have to pull back and ask “Is this the role of the state?”
Hutchinson noted that fewer than 200 kids are on therapies right now. He questioned what would happen to those children if HB1570 becomes law.
“It hurts my heart to think about that,” Hutchinson said.
The bill prohibits doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment or surgery to minors, including prescribing medications.
The measure drew criticism from medical and child welfare groups who said it would further marginalize trans youth.
Arkansas-based group inTRANSitive helped lead a campaign urging Governor Hutchinson to veto HB1570.
Shortly after the governor’s announcement, they turned their focus to Arkansas lawmakers, who will decide whether to override the governor’s veto.
“The fight is not over yet!” the group said on its social media pages. “The Senate and House will vote as soon as tomorrow to override the veto! Let’s make sure they all hear from us! Keep the pressure!”
The ban was enacted during a year in which two other bills targeting transgender people, have advanced easily in Arkansas.
Hutchinson recently signed legislation banning transgender women and girls from competing on teams consistent with their gender identity. Two other states, Tennessee and Mississippi, passed similar laws.
Hutchinson also signed legislation this session that allows doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral or religious objections.
Former A-State Rugby player Dean Mosley is a transgender man who recently spoke to Region 8 News about the bill going to the governor’s desk and what it could mean to transgender teens in Arkansas. “I feel like the government is saying like kill yourself. We would rather you do that than exist inside of our state,” Mosley said.
“As long as there is an opposition, we’re going to be out here fighting,” Mosley added. “It’s not just me, it’s not just trans people out there fighting for you, there are lots of other people we have, lots of allies who are going to make sure that you guys survive.”