Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson on Monday vetoed a bill that would have restricted gender-affirming medical care to trans minors. The bill, which had passed in the state’s Senate last week, would prohibit the use of hormones and puberty blocks for transgender youth.
In a news conference, Hutchinson referred to the bill as an example of “vast government overreach,” and that trans minors “deserve the guiding hand of their parents and of the health care professionals that their family has chosen.”
The governor also said that he is “hopeful my action will cause conservative Republican legislators to think through the issue again, and hopefully come up with a more restrained approach that allows a study of the science and ethics surrounding the issue before acting.”
Arkansas is just one of a number of states around the country that have either proposed or have passed anti-trans legislation, barring trans persons from competing in sports based on gender identity and from gaining access to gender affirming healthcare. Hutchinson, along with the governors of Mississippi and Tennessee, have previously signed bills barring trans athletes from joining sports teams which align with their gender identity.
Hutchinson, however, has drawn a distinction between the two bills. The latest bill, he said in the press conference, had been opposed by the state’s medical associations; he also said that passing the bill could increase social isolation and suicidal tendencies for trans youth.
In a statement on Twitter, Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs with the Trevor Project called the veto “a huge victory for the transgender an non-binary youth of Arkansas. Thank you to Governor Hutchinson for doing the right thing by rejecting this dangerous bill — the Arkansas state legislature should follow his lead in acknowledging the mental health risks of this bill and let the veto stand.”
Brinton encouraged lawmakers in other states to take a similar stand against legislation barring gender-affirming medical care for trans youth. “While we’re at it,” they wrote, “we’d also encourage Arkansas to reconsider its misguided ban on trans-student athletes.”