Will controversial transgender laws hurt Arkansas?

Concern surrounding transgender youth treatment bill in Arkansas

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Arkansas has become the first state to ban gender-affirming health care treatment for transgender youth.

Opponents of HB1570 call it an extreme piece of legislation that could hurt the state economically.

Hutchinson described it as “vast government overreach.”

Barring court intervention, HB1570 will go into effect this summer.

Arkansas governor vetoes bill that would have banned gender-affirming treatments for trans youth

The ACLU says it’s in the process of preparing litigation to challenge HB1570.

Supporters say this law protects children from making decisions they could regret later.

“How do we not protect children? When you’re 18, you can do anything you want,” said State Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, who led efforts to pass the bill through the Senate. “My heart goes out to children who truly have a confusion about gender. My heart goes out to their parents. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in that situation.”

State Sen. Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis, argued against the bill.

Ingram says it’s overly broad and will cut off access to health care for trans youth.

“I felt like we were being very intrusive. We’re getting in between the patient and the doctor and I think that’s wrong,” said Ingram. “The transgender population, they have a much higher suicide rate than the normal suicide rate for youths their age. There is a real fear in this state that that is going to spike as a result of this legislation.”

Ingram also worries HB1570 along with other anti-transgender laws the state passed could hurt the state economically.

“I’m concerned that things such as NCAA regional basketball tournaments that had been held in Little Rock will be put in jeopardy,” said Ingram. “Super-regionals for number one ranked Razorback baseball team could be put in jeopardy because of these types of legislation.”

Ingram said major businesses are concerned about recent legislation passed in Arkansas targeting the transgender community.

While Hutchinson opposed HB1570, he signed into law other measures, including one banning transgender women and girls from competing on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

“This law simply says that female athletes should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition,” said Hutchinson. “This will help promote and maintain fairness in women’s sporting events.”

An NCAA group that promotes LGBTQ inclusion singled out states like Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee in an open letter, calling recent laws targeting transgender athletes “inherently discriminatory” and demanded those laws be repealed.

“Legislation aimed at categorically banning transgender people--and particularly transgender girls and women--from sport is inherently discriminatory. Such legislation is often “informed” by hate and misinformation rather than science, and it is most certainly “informed” by fear instead of fact,” they wrote in the letter.

Tennessee lawmakers are considering a bill similar to HB1570.

It would ban gender-affirming treatment for trans youth unless the parents and three doctors, including a psychiatrist, sign off on it.

The bill is currently making its way through committees.

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