Arkansas governor vetoes bill banning medical treatment for young trans people

Martin Pengelly in New York and AP
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Staton Breidenthal/AP</span>
Photograph: Staton Breidenthal/AP

The Republican governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, has vetoed a controversial bill which would have stopped anyone under the age of 18 getting treatment involving gender reassignment surgery or medication in the southern state.

Arkansas would have been the first state to take such a move. Its Republican-controlled legislature could still enact the measure, however, since it takes only a simple majority to override an Arkansas governor’s veto.

The bill, known to supporters as the Safe Act, would prohibit doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.

Hutchinson’s veto followed pleas from pediatricians, social workers and parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.

A number of measures targeting transgender people have advanced in states controlled by Republicans this year. The governors of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee have signed laws banning transgender girls and women from competing on school sports teams consistent with the gender identity.

Related: Arkansas and South Dakota pass bans targeting transgender minors

Hutchinson recently signed a measure allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral or religious objections, a law opponents have said could be used to turn away LGBTQ patients.

Last month, the Guardian interviewed a number of young transgender Americans about such threats to their rights and what they can do to fight them.

Corey Hyman, 15 and from Missouri, said: “It’s going to take a lot of us to stop these bills. It’s going to take a lot out of us, out of our parents, out of our supporters. [This fight will] probably go on for many years.

“I’m worried and I’m scared that even more bills are going to be put through. Sometimes we don’t get notice about the bills until 24 hours before. It’s like, ‘By the way, tomorrow’s a senate hearing that could quite literally end your life.’

“They just don’t care.”