Arkansas Legislature Overrides Governor To Enact Anti-Transgender Law

The state flag of Arkansas

The Arkansas state legislature voted Tuesday to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto on a bill that would ban gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender minors in the state.

The Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act prohibits physicians from providing gender-affirming health care to anyone under 18-years-old including puberty blockers, hormones, and transition-related surgeries (which doctors don’t do anyway).

Less than 24 hours after Hutchinson’s veto was announced, the state Senate voted 25-8 and the state House voted 71-24 in favor of overriding the governor’s action. In Arkansas, a simple majority is all that’s required to bypass a governor’s veto. This is the only override by the legislature this year.

In doing so, Arkansas becomes the first state to prohibit physicians from providing gender-affirming treatment for trans people under age 18.

“If (the bill) becomes law, then we are creating new standards of legislative interference with physicians and parents as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people,” Hutchinson said at a news conference.

I still believe Hutchinson’s veto was a CYA move so he could emerge unscathed from the hateful bill.

In light of the legislature’s actions, LGBTQ advocates are promising a legal fight.

“Attempting to block trans youth from the care they need simply because of who they are is not only wrong, it’s also illegal, and we will be filing a lawsuit to challenge this law in court,” said Holly Dickson of the ACLU of Arkansas. “We are hearing from concerned families all over the state who are afraid about the impact of this bill and others like it.”

“We are committed to doing all we can to support these families and ensure they know how to continue to fight for their rights and get the care and resources they need,” added Dickson.