Arkansas Is First State To Ban Gender-Affirming Healthcare For Trans Youth

by Cassandra Stone
Spencer Platt/Getty

The Arkansas Senate voted 28-7 on Monday in favor of the legislation

On Monday, the Arkansas Senate passed a bill that seeks to ban access to gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors, including reversible puberty blockers and hormones. The Senate voted 28-7 in favor of the legislation, which will undoubtedly have a massive impact on trans youth in the state.

The discriminatory bill will head to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk. Unless the governor vetoes it, Arkansas will be the first state to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans kids. The bill has been widely criticized by medical and child welfare groups.

The bill would prohibit doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment or surgery to minors, and also from referring them to other providers for the treatment. The bill also allows private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for trans people of any age.

It’s the “single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature,” according to deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project Chase Strangio.

“HB 1570 was just passed through both chambers in the Arkansas legislature, banning trans youth from accessing health care and health insurance coverage that we deserve and need,” the ACLU tweeted on Monday. “Our rights and lives are under attack. Governor Hutchinson must veto this bill.”

The Arkansas bill is among dozens of bills targeting trans people all over the country this year. In addition to Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee are enacting restrictions on gender-affirming care. Alabama’s Senate approved a bill that would make it a felony to provide care such as puberty blockers or hormones for trans minors, and a Tennessee House Committee also created a similar measure that makes it a misdemeanor.

In Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, legislation has been enacted that prohibits trans girls and women from competing in school sports that honor their gender identity. Also on Monday, South Dakota’s governor issued an executive order to prohibit trans girls from playing on girls’ sports teams.

Allowing transgender kids access to the appropriate gender-affirming healthcare and extracurricular activities saves lives, full stop. The impact of taking these human rights away from minors is dark. Trans people don’t stop being trans just because the law prevents them from accessing their rights, but denying them these types of opportunities sure can make them mentally unwell.

The internet was ablaze with outrage over the Arkansas legislation.

These measures are unnecessarily cruel. Particularly during a global pandemic and economic crisis that has greatly impacted marginalized people to a much higher degree. Hateful, discriminatory laws like these must be stopped, and the only way to do that is to take action. Learn more about how you can help here.