Washington, D.C. — On Monday, Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a veto of H.B. 1570, a bill that would prohibit access to gender-affirming health care for the state’s transgender minors.
The bill sought to ban access to critical health care for transgender residents under the age of 18, and would have been the first such discriminatory bill of its kind signed into law. Over 90 bills attacking transgender people in myriad ways have been filed in state legislatures this year.
The veto comes just hours after the Department of Justice issued a memo regarding federal Title IX protections, determining that the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County applies to Title IX and clarifying transgender students are protected from discrimination in schools. The memo is even further evidence of the fact that attacks on transgender students — like the ban on transgender student athletes signed into law by Gov. Hutchinson earlier this year — are illegal, and exposes states that prioritize discrimination to expensive lawsuits.
In response to Gov. Hutchinson’s veto, Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
“Today’s veto is a welcome reprieve for Arkansas’ transgender youth, their families, and their communities. As Gov. Hutchinson himself stated, the bill as passed by the state legislature is a major overreach by lawmakers who sought to impose their own political agenda on the medical decisions of families and doctors.
Transgender Americans — particularly transgender youth — are already among the most at-risk individuals in the country. They face alarmingly high rates of discrimination in nearly every facet of daily life. Medical professionals in Arkansas made it clear to lawmakers last month that passing this bill would put lives in immediate jeopardy, but their testimony was ignored.
It is abhorrent that Arkansas legislators chose to waste their time and energy attacking transgender children instead of responding to the pandemic. Unfortunately, this fight is not yet over. The state’s simple majority veto override means lawmakers could continue to put politics over the lives of Arkansans by overturning Gov. Hutchinson’s decision and imposing this discriminatory and unconstitutional ban on Arkansas’ children.
For now though, Arkansas’ transgender youth and their allies have scored a huge, hard-fought victory. Their tireless efforts should serve as a blueprint to anyone standing up against discriminatory laws in their own backyards.
For more information on legislative attacks on transgender people or to speak with an expert, please contact Adam Peck at firstname.lastname@example.org.