Arkansas Just Became the First State To Ban Healthcare For Trans Youth

Arkansas has become the first state to ban health care for trans youth.

According to the ACLU: “HB 1570 was just passed through both chambers in the Arkansas legislature, banning trans youth from accessing health care and health insurance coverage that we deserve and need. Our rights and lives are under attack. Governor Hutchinson must veto this bill.”

On Monday they noted: “The trans community is facing a crisis in Arkansas. Yesterday afternoon, the Arkansas legislature passed HB 1570, a bill that would strip trans youth of their health care. The Governor of Arkansas must veto the bill when it reaches his desk.”

Citing that “this bill is catastrophic. It cuts off trans people from health care that: We need to survive. Every major medical association supports. Allows us to live as our true and authentic selves Stopping this bill is necessary to defend and protect the lives of trans people. Every trans and non-binary person deserves access to gender affirming health care, no matter where we live or what type of health insurance we have.”

Earlier this month, the bill’s Senate sponsor, Shay Shelnutt, acknowledged that he has never spoken to a transgender youth.

NPR reported: Syrus Hall, a 17-year-old from Mobile, Ala., has heard it all before: “You’ll grow out of it.” “It’s a phase.” “You’re just confused.”

Hall is transgender and in the early stages of his transition; he gets weekly shots of a low dose of testosterone.

“I worked really hard to be able to transition,” he says. “I dealt with bullying at school, and people being mean to me just because I exist. If I can deal with that, I know who I am. I’m not going to go back.”

So Hall is watching with alarm as the Alabama legislature advances bills that would outlaw hormone treatment for him and other trans youth in the state. Thinking of the bills’ proponents, he says, “Why should some guy who has never met me … why should he get to tell me what I can and can’t do? Why does he get to decide what is right for people who just want to be happy?”

This year, state legislatures have proposed a record number of anti-transgender bills. And Alabama‘s bill is one of the toughest. It would make it a felony to provide transition-related medical treatment, such as puberty blockers, hormones or surgery, to transgender minors.

Those who treat transgender youth say remarks like these are not just factually wrong; they also stigmatize an already marginalized and vulnerable population.

For Dr. Ladinsky, the spread of anti-trans medical care legislation around the country is deeply disturbing. “There is a lot of viscerally repugnant language in those bills that really evoke pain and evoke fear and couldn’t be farther from the truth,” she says. She points out that in their Birmingham clinic, no minor child is making the decision for treatment on their own. There is a detailed informed-consent process, and the child, their parents and the entire medical team all have to agree on a treatment plan.

Ladinsky also emphasizes that their hospital never performs gender-affirming surgery on minors.

But if the Alabama bill becomes law, she and her medical team could be charged with class C felonies for prescribing puberty blockers or hormones.

Freedom For All Americans said: “During the 2021 legislative session dozens of states will consider legislation related to LGBTQ discrimination. Some bills will seek to advance the comprehensive nondiscrimination laws that LGBTQ people so sorely need, while others will almost certainly attempt to single out and target LGBTQ people for unfair and unequal treatment. Freedom for All Americans is tracking each relevant bill in our 2021 Legislative Tracker, in partnership with the Equality Federation.”

NBC News reported: Alabama’s bill would also require school personnel to “out” students and tell their parents if they say their gender or sex is inconsistent with their assigned sex at birth. It’s a way of “scaring anyone who’s even questioning their gender from ever mentioning it,” said Nic, 32, who lives in Cedar Point, Alabama, and asked to go only by her first name because she’s not out as trans at work and fears repercussions.

Gender-affirming care has been shown to save young people’s lives by reducing their risk for suicide and depression.

Major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society and the American Psychiatric Association, among others, support gender-affirming care for trans youth and have opposed measures to limit it.

At a news conference Monday, Dr. Lee Savio Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “The AAP recommends that youth who identify as transgender have access to comprehensive gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space. The bill advancing through Arkansas Legislature not only ignores this recommendation but undermines it.”

Arkansas’ bill is already having an impact on trans people there, said Rumba Yambú, director of Intransitive, a group that supports trans people in the state. Arkansas’ bill is heading to the governor’s desk, Yambú said at the news conference that Intransitive will not stop fighting the bill and others that come after it.

“We’ve been here before this legislative session, and we will be here for you after,” they said. “To every trans kid, know that it is a fact, it is a fact that you were born blessed. To be trans is a blessing, and it’s a blessing that scares people who are born without it.”