Arkansas Bans Gender-Affirming Services for Transgender Youth

Madalyn Cottrell, MVCurrent Writer

With the passing of HB1570 on March 29th, Arkansas became the first state to prevent doctors from providing gender-affirming medical services to transgender youth. Major medical organization American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry claims that these medical services are essential to the mental health of a very vulnerable community of youth. The bill has received a lot of backlash from angered citizens who oppose it. 

Similar bills have been proposed by Republican lawmakers in more than 17 states, but none of them have been passed. The attempt to pass bills like HB1570 was the result of an effort from politicians to restrict the rights of transgender youth in sports and in doctor’s offices. 

Lawmakers in Arkansas voted 28 to 7 in favor of the bill. Arkansas Republicans are claiming this bill was passed with the intention of protecting transgender minors from making life-changing alterations to their bodies. The treatments being denied to these minors because of this bill are hormone blockers, transition-related surgeries, and other gender-affirming medical services. 

Supporter of the bill, Senator Alan Clark, has offered his condolences and sympathies to the trans community and their parents, but argues that the bill is meant to “protect children from making mistakes that they will have a very difficult time coming back from.” 

Despite the restrictions in Arkansas, major medical organizations like the Academy of American Pediatrics and Endocrine Society support gender-affirming services for transgender children. 

Research on the medical services for trans youth is limited. Lee Beers of the American Academy of Pediatrics claims the Arkansas bill is, “discrimination by legislation.” Beers has pointed out the high rates of suicide for transgender youth. Conducted surveys from the Trevor Project also have revealed that 40% of their respondents have attempted to take their life. When transgender youths do not have access to the proper services they need, it can be dangerous to them as it has a severe impact on their mental health.

Questions over whether or not it is the government’s place to put a blockade on transgender youth have arisen. However, on April 5th, things took a turn in regards to the passing of HB1570. Protests in Arkansas have arisen in defense of the transgender community, and in response to the outrage, Arkansas’ Republican governor vetoed the bill. Arkansas’ Senate voted to override the governor’s veto.