Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday made the state the first to ban gender confirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth, enacting the prohibition over the governor's objections. The Republican-controlled House and Senate voted to override GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of the measure, which prohibits doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers, or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment, the AP reports. Hutchinson vetoed the bill following pleas from pediatricians, social workers, and the parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide
The ban was opposed by several medical and child welfare groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics. The measure's sponsor referred to the procedures as experimentation and compared the restriction to other limits the state places on minors. "They need to get to be 18 before they make those decisions," Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum said. Hutchinson said the measure went too far in interfering with parents and physicians, and noted that it will cut off care for transgender youth already receiving treatment. He said he would have signed the bill if it had focused only on gender confirming surgery, which currently isn’t performed on minors in the state. Opponents of the measure have vowed to sue to block the ban before it takes effect this summer.
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