Dear Commons Community,
The Arkansas Republican-controlled House and Senate voted yesterday to override GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a measure, which prohibits doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.
Hutchinson vetoed the bill on Monday following pleas from pediatricians, social workers and the parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide. As reported by the Associated Press.
The ban was opposed by several medical and child welfare groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The measure’s sponsor referred to the procedures as experimentation and compared the restriction to other limits the state places on minors.
“They need to get to be 18 before they make those decisions,” Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum said.
Hutchinson said the measure went too far in interfering with parents and physicians, and noted that it will cut off care for transgender youth already receiving treatment. He said he would have signed the bill if it had focused only on gender confirming surgery, which currently isn’t performed on minors in the state.
The law will take effect in late July at the earliest. The American Civil Liberties Union said it planned to challenge the measure before then.
“This is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over — and we’re in it for the long haul,” Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas’ executive director, said in a statement.
The override, which needed only a simple majority, passed easily in both chambers, with House voting 72-25 in favor and the Senate 25-8.
The ban was enacted during a year in which bills targeting transgender people have advanced easily in Arkansas and other states. Hutchinson recently signed legislation banning transgender women and girls from competing on teams consistent with their gender identity, a prohibition that also has been enacted in Tennessee and Mississippi this year.
“This trend is harmful and sends the wrong message to those willing to invest in or visit our state,” Tom Walton with the Walton Family Foundation said in a statement released before the override vote. The foundation established by the family of Bentonville-based Walmart’s founder raised several concerns about the recent measures targeting LGBTQ people.
One lawmaker opposed to the measure compared it to the anti-integration bills Arkansas’ Legislature passed in 1958 in opposition to the previous year’s desegregation of Little Rock Central High School.
“What I see, this bill, is the most powerful again bullying the most vulnerable people in our state,” Democratic Sen. Clarke Tucker said before the vote.
The bill is a shame and the veto override an act of bias and bigotry!