Arkansas legislators are racing to pass a wave of discriminatory legislation targeting transgender Arkansans, and especially trans youth. House Bill 1570 would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing or even referring transgender young people for medically necessary health care. It would bar any state funds for gender-affirming health care for transgender people under 18, and it would allow private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for people of any age.
Doctors who provide medically necessary care to trans youth would risk losing their licenses and be subject to lawsuits by individuals and the state.
HB 1570 is one of the most extreme and harmful anti-trans bills in the country. If passed and signed, it will be the most extreme piece of anti-trans legislation ever signed into law.
Here’s what you need to know:
House Bill 1570 Puts Vulnerable Arkansans at Risk
- Denying best practice medical care and support to transgender youth can be life- threatening. It has been shown to contribute to depression, social isolation, self-hatred, risk of self-harm and suicidal behavior, and more.
- Research shows, after gender-affirming care and treatment, trans youth experience significant decreases in suicidal thoughts and improvements in overall emotional and behavioral health.
- This bill would take away options for trans youth, irreversibly force youth through endogenous puberty and undermine the prevailing recommendations of every major medical association.
House Bill 1570 Undermines Parents’ Rights
- The decision about what care is appropriate in a particular case should be left to the transgender youth, their parents, and their doctor.
- This bill would punish supportive families. Parents would have to consider moving out of state, or taking on the expense of regular travel to a state that allows gender-affirming care for their child.
- Courts have ruled time and time again that patients and their parents, not politicians, have the right to make decisions about their children.
Trans Health Bans are Based on Harmful Misconceptions about Gender-Affirming Care
- Trans girls are girls and trans boys are boys. Denying kids the right to gender-affirming care is denying them the right to be who they are.
- Gender-affirming care is not a process that trans kids, their families, or their healthcare providers take lightly. It comes after years of careful consideration by children and families and months or even years of evaluation by healthcare professionals.
- Despite the emphasis on medical care in media reports on transgender adults, gender transition for children who have not reached puberty is entirely a social process (this might include using a different name, wearing different clothes, and using different pronouns).
- Subsequent care for minors simply delays puberty to give a young person and the person’s family more time to make informed medical decisions about their care. Hormone therapy does not typically begin until a person reaches at least age 16, and no gender-affirming surgery is performed on people under 18.
Leading Medical Organizations Oppose House Bill 1570
- The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Pediatric Endocrinology Society, and the American Medical Association, among others, have all voiced opposition to laws and policies like this.
- Those organizations cite research demonstrating negative outcomes, including increased suicide rates, for trans youth who don’t have access to gender-affirming healthcare.
- Conversely, gender-affirming healthcare leads to a number of positive effects, including improvements to body image and overall psychological well-being and, importantly, reduced suicidality.