Arkansas became the first state in the USA to prohibit physicians from providing gender-affirming treatment for trans people under age 18 after the state's General Assembly voted Tuesday to override the governor's veto of an anti-trans bill that he called a "vast government overreach". On Tuesday, both the state House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override his veto, with the House voting 71-25 and the Senate 25-8 in favor of the veto override. Hutchinson described the bill, which would have barred health care providers from treating transgender minors with medication or surgery, as a "product of the cultural war in America". Gov. Asa Hutchinson, whose veto may be overridden by the state legislature, described HB 1570 as "extreme" and urged lawmakers to take a "more restrained approach" to the issue, Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports. Arkansas is the first state to pass a bill restricting transgender minors access to gender-affirming health care.
LGBTQ rights groups say the legislation, which would go into effect this summer, is unnecessary and detrimental for trans youth.
"Attempting to block trans youth from the care they need simply because of who they are is not only wrong, it's also illegal, and we will be filing a lawsuit to challenge this law in court", Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director, said in a statement.
Republican state Sen. Ralph Hise, who represents portions of western North Carolina and wrote the bill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"They need to get to be 18 before they make those decisions", Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum said.
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David called the SAFE Act "deeply dangerous" and that it would prevent children from seeking potentially lifesaving treatments. Republicans have enough votes to override Hutchinson's veto with a simple majority vote - something the governor said he already anticipates.
Hutchinson vetoed the bill 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.
The bill says that intersex children and those "with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sexual development" would be exempt from the bans. Lee Savio Beers said in a statement last month.