Law Banning Transition Care of Transgender Children Has Families Leaving Arkansas
With the GOP bill set to become law this summer, Arkansas families plan to move to other states.
With a bill restricting certain health procedures for transgender children looming, Arkansas is set to become the first state in the country to ban transition care for minors. As reported by NBC News, earlier this month the Arkansas General Assembly overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (Rep.) veto of the bill, effectively making transgender youth health measures illegal in Arkansas by this summer. Specifically, the bill bars access to reversible puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender affirming surgeries.
Affected by the impending law, families including George and Emily Spurrier are preparing to leave their home in Arkansas and moving to New Mexico. Their son, who just started using testosterone, will no longer be able to access the physician-prescribed hormone.
The law raises concerns not only for the physical health of transgender children but also their mental health. According to a study released last year by the Treavor Project, more than 50% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported having “seriously considered” suicide in the past 12 months.
Arkansas may be the first state to restrict healthcare to transgenders, but it likely won’t be the only state to pass laws banning transgender children’s care. Currently, 14 states are considering similar restrictions, according to the American Civil Liberties At risk due to the proposals are 45,100 transgender youth, says The Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law.
In addition to Arkansas’ recently passed trans health care bill, the state is considering four other LGBTQ bills, one of which allows doctors to refuse to treat someone based on their religious or moral beliefs. Another bill under consideration would prohibit schools from requiring teachers to refer to trans students by a name and pronoun that isn’t consistent with their birth sex.
Following in Arkansas footsteps, Texas may make it a felony for parents to provide their trans children with access to gender-affirming care.
“The fact that [the bills] just kept coming one after another after another … has just kind of demoralized us,” says George Spurrier. “Even if everything gets defeated or repealed, the spirit behind them is still here, and we just can’t help but feel like it’s not safe.”