United States. Arkansas Governor Ends Ban on Treatment of Transgender Youth | Human rights news

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has vetoed legislation that would have made his state the first to ban sex-confirming treatment or surgery for transgender young people, although lawmakers may enact the restriction despite its objections.

The Republican governor has rejected legislation that would have banned doctors from providing sex-confirming hormone therapy, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under the age of 18, or from referring them to other providers for treatment. treatment.

It comes as several US states have passed laws, activists say, restrict the rights of transgender people, focusing primarily on participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

“Yes [the bill] becomes law, so we are creating new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive issues involving young people, ”Hutchinson said at a press conference.

The Republican legislature could still enact the measure, as it only takes a simple majority of the House and Senate to override a governor’s veto in Arkansas. Hutchinson said he believed a waiver was likely.

Hutchinson’s veto follows calls from pediatricians, social workers and parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk of depression and suicide. Hutchinson said he met doctors and transgender people as he considered signing the measure.

He said he would have signed if he had focused solely on sex confirmation surgery, which is not currently performed on minors in the state. He noted that the bill would have ended medical care for young people already on treatment.

“The bill is too broad, extreme and ignores young people who are currently on hormone treatment,” he said. “

Proponents of the measure did not say when they planned to seek a waiver or whether they had obtained enough votes to pass the measure despite Hutchinson’s objection.

“These children must be protected,” Republican Representative Robin Lundstrum told reporters.

Hutchinson said he hoped lawmakers would come up with a “more restrained approach.”

Conservative groups have urged the legislature to enact the ban.

“The Arkansas legislature must step up and reverse the governor’s veto to make sure this good bill becomes law,” Family Council President Jerry Cox said.

Arkansas is one of the few states in the United States where all it takes is a simple legislative majority to override a governor’s veto. The only attempt to override the veto this year – on a bill rejected by Hutchinson that would have forced the state to repay fines imposed on companies for breaking coronavirus safety rules – failed last month.

Last attempt

The treatment ban was the latest measure targeting transgender people that has easily progressed in the Arkansas legislature and other states this year.

The governors of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee have signed laws prohibiting transgender girls and women from participating in school sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

In South Dakota, a transgender sports bill died after Republican Gov. Kristi Noem issued a partial veto. She issued an executive order immediately after the death of the bill that prompted public schools to issue bans, but critics say the order is just a recommendation meant to save her reputation with social conservatives. Noem has promised to call a special legislative session for lawmakers to take up the issue.

Hutchinson recently signed a measure allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone based on moral or religious objections, a law that opponents say could be used to refuse LGBTQ patients.

The leader of the country’s largest LGBTQ rights group said Hutchinson’s veto should be a “warning” to other states considering similar bans. Similar treatment bans have been proposed in at least 20 states.

“The repercussions were too great for Arkansas, and they will be just as severe for any state weighing this type of legislation,” Human rights campaign chair Alphonso David said in a statement.

This is not the first time that Hutchinson has pushed back against measures targeting the LGBTQ community.

In 2017, he opposed legislation that would have banned transgender people from using public toilets in accordance with their gender identity. This toilet bill, which tourist groups opposed, never made it past a Senate committee stage.

In 2015, Hutchinson urged lawmakers to rework a religious objections measure criticized by some of the state’s largest employers as anti-gay. The governor eventually signed a version of the measure that has been revised to address these concerns.

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