Arkansas becomes first state to criminalize health care for trans youth

Protesters protest anti-trans bills outside the Arkansas Capitol – Photo: Sydney Rasch / ACLU of Arkansas.

Arkansas becomes the first state to ban health care for transgender youth.

Republican-led Arkansas House and Senate have voted to override Village. Asa Hutchinson’s veto Bills banning gender-confirmed health care treatment for minors, including puberty blockers, hormones, and surgical intervention.

In a press conference announcing her veto on Monday, Hutchinson, a Republican, warned that the bill, as it was drafted, was a form of “government overreaction” that would shape the state’s individual care decisions and mother To set an example to interfere with the rights of the father.

He left the possibility of signing the bill open if it only banned gender confirmation surgery for minors, but also expressed concern that a ban on care could lead to suicidal tendencies, drug use, depression or in trans youth Isolation may increase.

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? ” He also objected that the state lacked a grandparent clause for an estimated 200 children currently receiving young blockers or hormones that would suddenly cut off their treatment.

But on Tuesday, the House voted 71-24 to override Hutchinson’s veto, with the Senate voting 25-8 in favor of the override.

The vote makes Arkansas the first state in the nation to prohibit transgender youth from receiving recommended treatment for gender dysphoria, even if their parents are absent.

Also prohibits Medicaid and private insurance from covering treatment for patients under the age of 18, and allows health insurers employed in the state to refuse to provide coverage anyone Transitional care.

Advocates have warned that the bill, which prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirmative care or refers a youth and their parents to another physician who provides it, allows healthcare providers to transfer transgender patients to their The non-profit will take away fear of losing license to conduct ”or being accused of breaking the law.

Providers may also fear being sued, as the bill provides for allowing minors to be treated, but would later regret their decision to sue their former provider for 20 years after the age of 18. is.

Other advocates, including The Trevor Project, the nation’s top crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth, warned that a ban on trans-youth receiving gender-affirmative care led to anxiety and suicide among already vulnerable people The trend will increase.

“Governor Hutchinson listened to the youth and his doctors, the state legislature clearly did not. We knew it could be an override, but it is nonetheless disastrous because we also know that it could have fatal consequences, ”Sam Brinton, Advocate and Vice President of Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, said in a statement. “It is not exaggerated or sensational to say that this group of young people, who already experience a disproportion of violence and suicide attempts, would be significantly at risk of suicide because of legislation such as HB 1570,” That would push them to the margins. Of society. “

Other advocates warned that the bill could actually have the opposite effect of lawmakers’ desire, prompting trans youth or family members to take hormones or drugs on the black market, for self-medication without doctor’s guidance Force, and without drugs. That proper regulatory oversight has not come. This is the only reason Many doctors And most major medical associations have come out in opposition to the bill.

related: Arkansas Governor banned transgender health care

“Research consistently shows that access to gender-affirming medical care for transgender children is a result of improved mental health outcomes, and that children who want these interventions, but may not get high rates of a full range of medical problems , Which includes contemplating suicide, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Stanford University School in Maryland, Drs. Jack Turbon told reporters during a press call organized by the Human Rights Campaign.

“Unfortunately, the thing that’s hard to see with these political debates, is that a lot of the story was driven by politicians and pundits who are not really affected by this law,” Turban said. “The people who are affected are transgender children, and I think the voices we need to hear are these children, their families, their doctors, researchers in the field who have spent decades trying to understand that. Doing how to support the mental health of these children. But this is not what we are hearing… my fear among a lot of doctors, parents, and researchers in this area, if these bills If passed, we have been throwing medical advances for decades, and really endangering people’s lives. “

“Many of us who do this work, and have been doing this work for many years, Dedicated to caring for young trans people and their families, these bills are not just heartbreakers, they are violating them, ”Dr. Said Robert Garfalo, who heads the Department of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “I am a pediatrician. I swear not to do any harm. I have spent my career making sure that the young people I care for have good access to care and that they have the best chance to live their lives as healthy, productive and authentic adults, and that These laws do anything.

“Being transgender, it is not a phase, it is not a trend, it is not an effect. Trans identity is a normal and The natural part of the range of human expression, and therefore can be thought of as something other than that to be seen or something that is malleable and which can be suppressed by external influences, flies in the face of what we know , Scientific evidence in the form of scores suggests otherwise, “Garfalo said, noting that transgender health care is not experimental, as its effects have been known and documented in many scientific studies for decades.

Protesters rallied outside the Arkansas State House to protest against several anti-transgender bills. – Photo: Sydney Rasch / ACLU of Arkansas.

Garoflow also rejected the idea that doctors ask parents to force their children into gender-affirming treatment, noting that careful consideration based on parental consent and the circumstances of individual patients – No medical intervention is done on minors without months of consultation.

“I thought the nation had learned a little bit [from] A tragic case of a young woman in Ohio that lasted for months on her social media suggested that if she was not allowed to take care of hormones confirming her gender, her own life and her mental health were threatened , ”He said, referring to Leela. “And unfortunately, the woman stepped in front of a tractor-trailer on a highway and took her own life. And I thought at that moment, this country had learned its lessons. And so it is heart-wrenching and it is imperative for me to come here to talk about the bills in 2020, 2021, which are really just designed to end discrimination and hatred. “

The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to challenge the law in court.

“Today, Arkansas legislators protested the bill broadly, heavily and bipartisan and continued their discriminatory crusade against trans youth,” Holly Dixon, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement. “It is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over – and we are in it for the long haul. Efforts are being made to prevent trans youth from taking care that they simply need that they are not only wrong, but also illegal, and we will file a lawsuit to challenge this law in court.

“We are hearing from concerned families across the state who are apprehensive about the impact of this bill and others,” Dixon said. “We are committed to doing all we can to support these families and want to make sure they know how to continue to fight for their rights and receive the care and resources you need.

“Whatever these politicians do or say, one thing has not changed: Trans youth are loved, seen, and we will never stop fighting to protect their dignity, their rights and their lives.” For all those speaking out against this bill: Now is the time to live vigorously, not only for trans life, but for all those fundamental rights that are hell-bent on attacking politicians. “

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