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Arkansas Passes Bill To Ban Health Care Access For Transgender Young People

by : Niamh Shackleton on :
Arkansas Passes Bill To Ban Health Care For Trans YouthPA Images/Tim Evanson/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Arkansas has become the first state to pass an anti-transgender bill regarding the healthcare trans youth can access.

The new legislation, which was passed yesterday, March 29, prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to young transgender people. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson now has five days, not including Sunday, to sign or veto the bill.

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The ‘Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act’ also prevents doctors from referring trans youth to other providers for treatment.

Passed in the House earlier this month, the state Senate voted 28-7 yesterday, March 29, in favour of the bill, Insider reports.

As it stands, Governor Hutchinson has not expressed whether he is for or against it.

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If Hutchison signs it, the SAFE Act would come into force this summer. His signature would also make Arkansas the first state to criminalise trans youth accessing vital healthcare services.

While Arkansas is the first state to have passed the bill, Arkansas isn’t alone in trying to place restrictions on the healthcare trans youth can access – several other states including South Carolina and Tennessee have also proposed similar bills.

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There’s been an increase in anti-trans laws being proposed this year, making 2021 record-breaking for the amount put forward. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 2021 has seen more than 80 anti-transgender bills introduced in the country.

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Another area being clamped down on is transgender women and girls’ ability to take part in female sports teams – something which Arkansas signed into law this month.

Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has since described the rise in these bills as ‘dangerous’.

He told CNN:

There have been many existential threats to trans existence, but there’s something uniquely dangerous about what’s going on right at this moment with the combination of the sports bills and the health care bills. I think the impulse underlying both is to try to establish governmental policy that it’s harmful to be trans.

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Discussing Arkansas’ SAFE Act, Strangio described it as ‘the single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature’, NBC News reports.

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Meanwhile, HRC President Alphonso David said, ‘These bills are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents. Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to score political points by sowing fear and hate.’

The bills come despite President Biden’s attempts at making the US more LGBTQ+ friendly. Since coming into office, he’s signed bills making it illegal for federal agencies to discriminate against someone for being trans and another one allowing trans people to serve in the military.

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If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8 pm to midnight and is run by trans volunteers.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, Arkansas, Healthcare, LGBTQ+, Now, US News

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Insider and 1 other
  1. Insider

    Arkansas becomes first state to pass bill prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to trans youth

  2. NBC News

    Arkansas passes bill to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth