Arkansas Bans Gender Transition Measures for Minors

by Libby Krieger

The Arkansas legislature overrode the Republican governor’s veto of the bill that bans gender transition treatments for the state’s youth on Tuesday.

The legislation, named the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, prohibits doctors from providing puberty blockers, gender-confirming hormone treatment, and surgery. Referring anyone under 18 years old to other providers for treatment is also outlawed by SAFE.

According to the bill’s lead sponsor, Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum, it “simply protects minors from being preyed upon and pressured into making adult decisions before they are ready.”

Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed the bill, saying it was “overbroad” and “extreme.”

Also in opposition to the legislation is the Americans for Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who have noted their intent to challenge SAFE in court.

Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas’ executive director released a statement, saying: “This is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over – and we’re in it for the long haul.”

Though, as Sen. Alan Clark mentioned in support of the bill, a study by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that 90 percent of young adults who experienced gender dysphoria eventually identified how they were assigned at birth, many are criticizing the bill for being “anti-science.”

“They’re not just anti-trans. They’re anti-science. They’re anti-public health,” remarked Dr. Robert Garofalo, division head of adolescent and young adult medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago about the Arkansas legislation.

Organizations such as the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which are viewed as non-biased, trustworthy advocates of science, have come out to publicly oppose the bill.

The blurring of lines between science and politics has manifested clearly in the reaction surrounding the passed legislation. Even amid pressure from liberal advocates and the Republican governor, the Arkansas legislature stood strong and passed the bill.

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