ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) – With an override of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto, gender-confirming treatments and surgeries have been outlawed in Arkansas for teens.
“It’s mostly just to put down on a certain group of people,” Jewel Hayes said.
Jewel Hayes is a trans-woman. Chris Attig is a father of a trans-man.
“It’s just atrocious, I don’t understand these folks doing this,” Hayes said.
Both say HB1570 – also known as the safe act becoming law.. will be detrimental — especially to those teens already in transition.
“It would be damaging to all of a sudden lose the medicine you’ve been taking,” Hayes said.
“The biggest impact hits kids under 18 that might be on hormone blockers and hormone blockers were essential to my son’s – I suppose treatment,” Attig said.
Dr. Stephanie Ho works with gender non-conforming and transgender youth in Northwest Arkansas.
“The medicine I practice here for trans health and gender non-conforming health and gender-affirming care is evidence-based,” Dr. Ho said. “It’s medically necessary.”
The services vary depending on age from puberty blockers to prescribing hormones. All of which involve consent from a guardian and proper counseling from a medical professional.
“The suicide rate in the gender non-conforming and transgender community can be as high as 40% and starting hormones can be one of the best things you can do for anyone’s mental or physical health who fit into that population,” Dr. Ho said.
With the “Safe Act” set to become law, the concern for trans youth mental health has heightened.
“we expect that there will be higher rates of self harm, self mutilation and even suicide,” Dr. Ho said.
“I think it’s important to stay in Arkansas and make this place better if you do have a voice that’s strong enough to say anything,” Hayes said.
“They belong here, we love them, hang on – this is not over,” Attig said.
The bill is now set to become state law 90 days after the end of the legislative session, which is currently scheduled for April 30.