Washington, D.C. — Barely 24 hours after Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) issued a veto of H.B. 1570, a bill that bans health care for the state’s transgender youth, a Republican-led group of lawmakers voted to overturn his veto, passing the most extreme anti-transgender law in the country.
In his veto of the bill on Monday, Gov. Hutchinson warned that the legislation was extreme and represented a dramatic overreach of the state government into the health care decisions made by families and their medical providers. It’s also an abhorrent attack on transgender youth, who already endure disproportionate instances of violence and discrimination, even without the help of their own government.
In response to today’s vote, Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
Today, a Republican-led group of lawmakers in Arkansas voted to put children’s lives at risk. Transgender youth, their parents and allies, the entire medical community, and the state’s own Republican governor have all decried this law as abhorrent, immoral, dangerous, and extreme. None of that mattered to state legislators hell-bent on antagonizing children.
Transgender youth are among the most at-risk people in the country for discrimination, violence, and depression. Having access to adequate, gender-affirming health care was the absolute bare minimum that was afforded for these children and their families, yet Arkansas Republicans couldn’t wait even one day after Gov. Hutchinson’s veto to rip it away from them. Had they simply not shown up for work for the rest of their terms, Arkansas would be a better place than it is today.
If there is any good news in Arkansas today, it’s that transgender youth have proven to be far more resilient and tenacious than the people who continue to fail them in the state capital. Our judicial system has made it abundantly clear that transgender Americans are protected from the very kinds of discrimination this bill seeks to impose, and it will only be a matter of time before the courts strike down this bill as unconstitutional. The only thing permanent about today’s vote is the moral stain it leaves on the 25 state senators and 71 state representatives who placed their own bigotry above the lives of children.
For more information on transgender health care or to speak with an expert, please contact Adam Peck at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcepa.