Arkansas will become the first state in the US to ban transgender kids from gender-affirming health care.
Despite the best efforts of its own Republican governor, both chambers of the GOP-dominated state Legislature voted in majorities to overrule Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the bill.
The bill will ban transgender kids from accessing health care like hormone therapy and reversible puberty blockers.
Earlier this week, Hutchinson announced that he vetoed the bill. But state legislators in Arkansas did not agree, and he didn’t expect them to. The governor freely acknowledges that his veto would be likely overridden.
Hutchinson added that there are fewer than 200 trans kids in Arkansas that are believed to be receiving “hormone treatment”. But now, it’s unclear how or if those young people will continue to receive their necessary health care. Or worse, they may be forced to rely on the black market or even leave the state.
While Republicans claim that children are being forced into surgery, the guidelines from the Endocrine Society said that only people who are at least 18 years of age receive genital surgeries.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, legislators in around 20 states have introduced similar bans, and the union threatened to sue Arkansas if the bill became law.
“We will see you in court, you cruel, cruel people,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for Transgender Justice for ACLU LGBT & HIV Project tweeted.
However, it’s not clear how long the ACLU’s lawsuit against the state may go on.
“There are kids in these states who are currently receiving life-saving medical care and when these bills go into effect, their ability to receive that care is going to stop,” Kate Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign told VICE News.
“That is going to be traumatic for them and it’s going to be traumatic for the kids who come behind them, who would be ready to access that care themselves, and then it doesn’t exist for them,” Oakley added.
“This is truly life-changingly terrible,” Oakley said. “Yes, it is my fervent belief that these bills are going to be eventually overturned in court, but that takes time and there’s real harm done in the meantime.”
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