BREAKING: Gov. Hutchinson Vetoes a Ban on Transgender Medical Care

by Wyatt Ronan

LITTLE ROCK, AR — Today, Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed House Bill 1570, an anti-transgender bill that would have denied medical necessary, gender-affirming services to transgender youth. This bill would have been the first of its kind to be signed into law anywhere in the country. There are so far 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 93 directly target transgender people and 29 would, like HB 1570, deny medically necessary services and gender-affirming care to transgender youth. Such bills have proliferated in the last two years -- 57 bills of this kind -- even as they have been opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the National Association of Social Workers which have argued that this bill would only worsen the increased risk of anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and suicidal ideation that transgender children face. These attacks on transgender youth are fueled by discrimination, not fact.

This unprecedented bill, which would have denied medically-necessary and potentially life-saving gender-affirming care to transgender children was too extreme, even for Governor Asa Hutchinson. Even after signing other anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender bills into law, Governor Hutchinson balked -- he heard from a chorus of supporters of equality to veto this bill which was unpopular among Republicans, Independents, and Democrats alike. This ought to be a warning to any governor across the country considering bills like HB 1570. The repercussions were too much for Arkansas, and they will be just as severe for any state weighing this type of legislation.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

This veto will prevent further discrimination against transgender kids who are simply trying to receive gender-affirming care that will improve their health, safety, and wellbeing. All Arkansans deserve access to health care, especially in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Reaffirming access to this medically necessary care is an important step to prevent discrimination and exclusion of transgender kids. What’s too extreme for Governor Hutchinson should be too extreme for any governor.

Eric Reece, Human Rights Campaign Arkansas State Manager

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.
  • Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous, anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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