Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said on Monday vetoed the bill, which would make the state the first in the country to prevent doctors from providing certain types of care to the Transgender Youth. But the veto can be overridden by a simple majority in the Senate and Arkansas legislature, which passed the bill with a large majority.
At least 16 other states across the US are considering the same law, which has been attacked by transgender supporters, saying that cutting off the care needed for adolescents will cause more suicide. Civil rights organizations have also promised to stop such steps that might pass.
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Governor Hutchinson’s veto was a reversal of his actions on another transgender bill just one week ago when he signed a bill into law prohibiting transgender women from playing female sports. These bills are part of the wave of laws that the Republican Party has introduced this year on transgender issues- a record 93 bills in at least 22 states, according to human rights campaigns and LGBTQ activists.
But instead of siding with conservatives on transgender problems, Hutchinson, a Republican in his second and final term, offered a small-government conservative argument to oppose the bill. “The state should not assume to jump into every medical, human, and ethical problem. This would be, and is a huge government reach,” Hutchinson told reporters, said he expected the legislature to take an override vote.
The bill’s language threatens to revoke a medical license of any health professional who provides puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or operations that affirm gender to minors, and it opens health care providers to lawsuits from patients who then regret procedures.
Arkansas became the second state after Mississippi to introduce the law prohibiting transgender women from playing women’s sports. Idaho passed a similar law last year, which the federal court blocked.
Last week, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued a pair of executive commands that prohibit trans women and girls from female sports after failing to reach an agreement with the legislature on the same legislation. Alabama and Tennessee are among the states moving towards a ban on transgender health for teenagers.
Supporters say they want to protect children from medical procedures that they will later regret. They also accused transgender supporters of minimizing side effects and understating cases where transgender people regret their decisions. Critics say the proposal is not constitutional, opposes the best medical science, and relies on obsolete stereotypes, seeing them as political tactics to prepare right-wing anger.
“This veto belongs to thousands of Arkansans who speak against this discriminatory bill, especially young people, parents, and pediatricians who have never stopped fighting against this anti-trans attack,” said Holly Dickson, Director of American Civil Liberties Union in Arkansas, said in a statement. Experts say every step in adolescents’ treatment is done by consulting doctors, therapists, and social workers, often for months, if not for years.
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