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Arkansas Bans Transgender Clinical Remedies for Youths

Arkansas has become the first state to pass a law prohibiting doctors from giving gender-affirming medical treatments to transgender youths, CNN reported.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson had vetoed the bill on Monday, calling it a “product of the cultural war in America.” But on Tuesday, the state House and Senate voted to override the veto, making it state law, CNN reported.

At least 17 other states are considering similar legislation, but the Arkansas bill was the first to reach the governor’s desk, the Washington Post reported.

The bill bans doctors from prescribing puberty blockers, hormone therapies, or genital-altering surgeries for anybody under 18. Even referring a youth for such treatment from another doctor is prohibited.

“It is of grave concern to the General Assembly that the medical community is allowing individuals who experience distress at identifying with their biological sex to be subjects of irreversible and drastic nongenital gender reassignment surgery and irreversible, permanently sterilizing genital gender reassignment surgery, despite the lack of studies showing that the benefits of such extreme interventions outweigh the risks,” the text of the bill says.

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Hutchinson, a Republican, had called the measure a “vast government overreach” in announcing his veto on Monday.

“The bill is overbroad, extreme, and does not grandfather those young people who are currently under hormone treatment,” Hutchinson said. “The young people who are currently under a doctor’s care will be without treatment when this law goes into effect. That means they will be looking to the black market or go out of state … to find the treatment that they want and need. This is not the right path to put them on.”

Many medical groups oppose this kind of legislation. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says it “strongly opposes any efforts — legal, legislative, and otherwise — to block access to these recognized interventions.”

Chase Strangio, the deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, complimented Hutchinson for his veto on Monday. On Tuesday, he said the ACLU is preparing to challenge the bill in court, CNN said.

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