The Arkansas Senate has passed a bill banning gender identity-affirming treatment for minors which, if signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson, would be the first of its kind in the nation.
Arkansas House Bill 1570 passed 28-7 Monday and seeks to ban doctors from prescribing hormones, conducting surgery, or providing referrals for such services for patients under the age of 18 who are seeking to live as a member of the opposite sex.
USA Today notes that the legislation does not have a provision for minors who are already in the process of being administered such treatments.
“This bill sets out to protect children in an area where they very much need protection,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Republican state Sen. Alan Clark, said ahead of the chamber’s vote.
The bill has received quick backlash from activists and members of the medical community alike who believe that gender identity-affirming drugs and surgery are critical for transgender children.
The American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics have all expressed public opposition to the bill.
During the state senate session, however, Clark noted that the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says 90% of adolescents who experience gender dysphoria eventually identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
The lawmaker also pointed out that the bill does not prohibit counseling or therapy for young people who are struggling with gender dysphoria and encouraged families to seek out these avenues of treatment for their children.
USA Today says that Republican Governor Hutchinson has not made clear if he will sign the bill, and a spokesperson says he is reviewing it and will listen to the debate on its passage. However, he has just five days excluding Sunday after it reaches his desk to either sign or veto or it will become law without his signature.
Arkansas has been capturing attention for a number of bills it has passed that take a decided stand on highly controversial issues such as transgenderism.
Hutchinson has already signed a law banning biological males from participating in women’s sports and a bill that protected the rights of doctors to decline to perform certain medical procedures that conflicted with their religious beliefs.
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