Arkansas infamously passed the first law in the nation to try to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth in 2021. After hearing extensive evidence presented by four transgender youth and their families challenging Arkansas’ HB1570, the courts blocked that ban as unconstitutional. This week, Arkansas passed SB199, which is its first piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation from the 2023 Arkansas legislative session. 

SB199 imposes severe consequences aimed solely at healthcare professionals who provide life-saving and life-changing care to transgender youth. SB199 is an effort to achieve indirectly what the Constitution prohibits the state from doing directly. This law is not based on science or evidence, and it is a direct attack on the fundamental rights, health, and well-being of Arkansas’ youth and those who care for them. 

We offered the Governor and lawmakers the opportunity to hear from trans youth in Arkansas and those who care for them because they are the experts and have compelling, critical information on how this law harms Arkansans. Unfortunately, Governor Sanders chose not to hear from those most affected by this legislation and her decision to sign SB199 into law puts vulnerable youth in harm's way.

The ACLU of Arkansas urges Governor Sanders to listen to the people most affected by this and similar anti-LGBTQ legislation and to work towards supporting policies that prioritize the health and safety of all Arkansans. We will continue the fight against this harmful legislation and advocate for the rights of all individuals, including trans youth, to access the healthcare they need and deserve and to have their rights respected and protected in this state.