If you haven’t seen it in the news, on April 6th, Arkansas passed HB 1570, the first bill in the U.S. that effectively bans gender-affirming care for trans youth. On top of that, Twenty-eight states are considering anti-trans bills, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
BREAKING: The Arkansas Legislature has voted to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of #HB1570.
We can’t emphasize this enough: Trans youth are loved. Trans youth belong. No bill passage will ever change that.
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) April 6, 2021
HB 1570 makes it illegal for clinicians to provide puberty blockers and hormone therapy to minors in Arkansas. Other bills that are being considered across our country also affect trans youth’s access to health care, including giving care providers the right to deny a trans patient treatment based on moral or religious grounds. Other bills looking to be passed would remove trans girls’ ability to participate in girls’ sports. According to the CDC’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2% of U.S. high schoolers identify as trans, meaning this will affect about 300,000 teens across the country.
The Arkansas HB 1570 bill was vetoed by Governor Asa Hutchinson but was then overridden by The Arkansas Legislature.
How will these bills affect trans youth?
I spent this week trying to figure out what’s going on in Arkansas, and I’m so grateful to the activists, families, and trans youth there who were willing to share their stories. https://t.co/3Amg5AkAl0
— Raisa Bruner (@raisabruner) April 9, 2021
Specifically, HB 1570 makes it illegal for trans youth to have access to the healthcare they need. This can be potentially life-threatening. Lack of medical care can also contribute to depression, social isolation, self-hatred, risk of self-harm and suicidal behavior, and more. The bill also completely undermines the rights of parents by making supportive actions punishable. Many families are considering moving out of state so they can get the health care that their children deserve. Bills related to healthcare will threaten the lives of trans youth.
Other bills that are being proposed, like those dealing with sports, will make it that much harder for trans youth to fit in and comfortably enjoy their life. Suicide rates are statistically much higher among trans youth. In The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2020, it was reported that more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth surveyed had seriously considered suicide.
The reasoning and the experts
Please stand up for young transgender Arkansans. It only takes a few moments to copy and paste the email addresses and letter. Please do this for us. We need all the support we can get.
— Kristofer Eckelhoff (@transvoiceguy) April 7, 2021
Conservatives who passed the bill stand behind the belief that they will be protecting trans youth from their “choices” at a young age. The bill itself reads, “the risks of gender transition procedures far outweigh any benefit at this stage of clinical study on these procedures.”
Those against the bill worry for the future of trans youth, and many experts agree with their concern.
“All existing studies show that regret following gender-affirming medical care is rare,” Dr. Jack Turban, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, who researches the mental health of transgender youth explained. “Existing medical guidelines recommend against gender-affirming genital surgeries for minors,” Dr. Turban said.
Dr. Karen Tang, a gynecological surgeon, went live on Instagram with Chase Strangio, a nationally recognized trans advocate and the deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, to discuss the bill after it was originally vetoed. “Most gender affirmation care in minors is not surgical; it’s medical,” Dr. Tang explained. This means that treatment banned by HB 1570 can include options like counseling and treatments like puberty suppressants, which gives a child time to “explore and confirm ideas of gender identity,” and allow puberty changes to continue if treatment is stopped.
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Beyond medical experts, the LGBTQ+ community and allies have banded together in hopes the bill is repealed. Many are urging community members to email, call and contact their governors to make a change. Many activities are making a stand on social media and urging others to speak out as well. Transgender Support and resources can be found on this page.
We’re here to listen! Tell us your stories below in the comments!
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