Arkansas on Tuesday banned certain types of procedures for young transgender people, overriding a veto by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
The law threatens any healthcare professional who provides puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or gender-transition surgery to minors with losing their medical license, and opens them up to lawsuits from people who regret their procedures.
At least 16 other US states are considering similar legislation, which transgender advocates have criticized, saying that cutting off badly needed care to adolescents would inevitably lead to more suicides.
The healthcare bills are among dozens of others introduced across the US that would limit such procedures.
Proponents of the bills say that they want to protect young people.
They also accuse transgender advocates of minimizing the side effects of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, and point cases where transgender people reverse their decision to transition.
Hutchinson on Monday vetoed the legislation, calling it “a vast government overreach.”
However, the Arkansas House of Representatives voted 71 to 24 to override the veto, followed shortly thereafter by the Arkansas Senate, 25 to eight.
The bill is to become law 90 days after the end of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end on April 30.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents 67,000 pediatricians, was among the medical organizations to oppose the bill, saying that it would cut young people off from needed medical care and needlessly increase their already high risk of suicide.
“Today Arkansas legislators disregarded widespread, overwhelming and bipartisan opposition to this bill, and continued their discriminatory crusade against trans youth,” said Holly Dickson, director of the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has vowed to challenge the law in court.
Those who consistently identify as transgender can be prescribed puberty blockers.
Others graduate to cross-sex hormone therapy, a more serious commitment to transitioning.
Some opt for surgery with parental consent.
“There’s tons of solid science supporting this approach,” said Madeline Deutsch, medical director for transgender care at the University of California, San Francisco. “There’s a general consensus among professionals in this field, and in professionals in health and mental health fields in general.”
The American College of Pediatricians, representing 600 healthcare professionals, said that with time and counseling, transgender people will revert.
“We are basically being blackmailed [into providing hormone treatments] by that adolescent who’s emotionally troubled into doing something that they don’t understand,” American College of Pediatricians president Quentin van Meter said.
“A 13-year-old cannot wrap their head around the concept of building a biological family in their later years,” van Meter said, referring to the potential loss of reproductive capability from such procedures.
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