Just hours ago Arkansas became the first state to pass a bill which prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender youth after a vote in the state Senate.
A 28-7 House vote passed HB 1570, known as the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act” which blocks trans youth from receiving health care and insurance coverage to pursue gender-affirming care. The bill prohibit doctors from offering gender-confirming hormone therapy or surgery to transgender youth under the age of 18. Doctors would also be able to deny referrals to other providers for these types of treatments.
For trans youth learning about themselves and their options, this would also mean removing access to puberty-blockers, a treatment option for trans youth that is used to prevent the onset of puberty. It is recommended that trans youth work with mental health professionals and doctors to seek the most appropriate treatment for them, including puberty blockers.
If signed, the bill would take effect this summer.
According to the ACLU, Over 60 anti-trans bills are being considered across the country. Arkansas has also proposed two bills, SB354 and SJR16, that would prevent trans youth from participating in school sports.
BREAKING: Arkansas has become the first state to ban health care for trans youth.
— ACLU (@ACLU) March 29, 2021
Legislation will now go to Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson’s desk for signature. The governor has five days to sign or veto the bill before it becomes law. Gov. Hutchinson has not publicly said whether he supports the legislation.
LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, child welfare organizations, and medical professionals have criticized the legislation and have said it is the first block of its kind in the US.
Research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Child Mind Institute, and American Psychological Association all recommends that states provide gender-affirming care for trans youth as it is a means for alleviating distress surrounding gender identity.
If the bill is signed, Arkansas will become the first state to criminalize vital health services to trans youth.
Studies have shown children who are unable to access gender-affirming care experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than trans youth with supportive doctors and families. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the earlier transgender youth get care, the less likely they are to suffer from depression and are at higher risk of suicide.
This news is still developing.