In March, the state’s Senate approved House Bill 1570, the “To Create The Arkansas Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act.” The bill prohibited a “physician or other healthcare professional” from providing “gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen (18) years of age.”
In addition to banning the procedures for minors, the bill also blocked referrals, public funding, and insurance coverage for these procedures.
Hutchinson cited the bill’s “over-broad” nature and the lack of a “grandfather clause” for children already in the process of transitioning as reasons he did not sign the bill. He has said that if the bill merely outlawed gender-transition surgeries for minors, he would have signed it.
On Tuesday, both the state House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override his veto, with the House voting 71-25 and the Senate 25-8 in favor of the veto override.
Pro-LGBT groups who condemned the Arkansas law claimed that children are far more likely to commit suicide if they are not allowed to transition, but research shows that facilitating a child’s gender transition “does not reduce and may even exacerbate the psychological distress that could lead to suicide,” according to materials from the Person and Identity Project.
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The Catholic Medical Association has noted that in cases of gender dysphoria among children, there is little to no evidence that giving the child puberty blockers and facilitating their “transition” is beneficial for the child.
“We really don’t know much about gender dysphoria—what causes it, how to treat it. We do know that in most cases it resolves by the end of puberty. That alone indicates that we should be cautious in our approach to irreversible medical and surgical interventions,” Dr. Barbara Golder of the Catholic Medical Association wrote in a Feb. 2020 statement.
Dr. Michael Parker, president of Catholic Medical Association, noted in the same statement that “there is not a single long-term study to establish the safety of using puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones in physically normal youth.”