Arkansas becomes first state to ban health care for trans youth



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  • Arkansas has passed a bill that prohibits doctors from providing sex-affirming medical care to trans youth.
  • The Senate passed the bill on Monday by 28 to 7. The House passed the bill earlier this month.
  • The legislation is now going to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office to be signed.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Arkansas became the first state Pass a bill that bans doctors from providing sex-affirming medical care to transgender youth following a vote in the state Senate on Monday.

HB 1570, the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act, prohibits trans youth from accessing health care and insurance coverage for gender care. The bill passed 28-7 in the State Senate. The State House passed the bill earlier this month.

The bill would ban doctors from offering sex-confirming treatment or surgery to transgender youth. Doctors could also not refer minors to other providers for treatment.

The legislation now goes to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office for signature. He did not say publicly whether he supported the bill. The governor has five days, Sunday not included, to sign or veto the bill before it becomes law.

If signed, the bill would come into effect this summer.

Opponents say if the law passes, it would be the first such ban in the United States. LGBTQ advocacy groups, child protection organizations and health professionals have criticized the legislation.

The Endocrine Society, Child Mind Institute, and American Psychological Association best medical practice guidelines all recommend that states provide gender-sensitive care for trans children. If Hutchinson signs the bill, Arkansas will become the first state to criminalize vital health services.

Studies have shown that children who cannot access gender-affirming care experience higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide than trans youth with supportive doctors and families. A 2020 study published in Pediatrics found that the earlier transgender youth receive care, the less likely they are to experience depression and suicidal thoughts.

Getting sex affirming care before puberty can slow or stop some of the changes that are more difficult to reverse, such as deepening of the voice, hair growth, and fat distribution.

Arkansas’ HB1570 comes amid a wave of anti-trans bills being considered by state legislatures across the country this year. Insider previously reported that 28 states were voting on anti-trans legislation in 2021.

Arkansas also proposed two bills that would prevent trans youth from participating in school sports: SB354 and SJR16

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