FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Monday vetoed HB1570, a bill that would have barred doctors in Arkansas from providing gender-affirming hormone treatment or surgery to anyone under the age of 18. The first trans elected official in state history, a Washington Co. justice of the peace, thanked the governor for doing so.

“Thank you to Governor Hutchinson for vetoing HB1570, a damaging and extreme bill that would have had a negative impact on families of trans youth in our state,” said Evelyn Rios Stafford, (D). “In too many situations, the actual voices of trans people are sidelined while misinformation is spread about us and our lives.”

Rios Stafford, who was elected in Nov. 2020 after taking in more than 65% of the unofficial vote in District 12, said she met with the governor last week to discuss anti-trans bills going through Arkansas’ legislature.

“The governor’s willingness last week to meet with me and an 18-year-old trans person who went through this very process showed he is open to listening to those with real life experience,” Rios Stafford said.

In a statement, the ACLU of Arkansas credited people like Rios Stafford who have made their voices heard during this year’s legislative session.

This veto belongs to the thousands of Arkansans who spoke out against this discriminatory bill, especially the young people, parents, and pediatricians who never stopped fighting this anti-trans attack. Medical decisions should be left up to trans youth, their parents, and their doctor – not politicians or the government. Arkansas legislators should recognize the work Governor Hutchinson put into this decision and follow his lead by allowing this veto to stand. We remain committed to stopping this law from harming the people of this state, including going to court if that is what legislators force these families to do to protect their children. 

Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director

The future of the legislation is still in question, as the bill’s sponsors have called for the legislature to override Hutchinson’s veto.

Rios Stafford said she hopes the momentum from Monday carries over.

“Now we need to make sure the legislature sustains the governor’s veto,” Rios Stafford said. “I urge our state lawmakers make the same good faith effort to listen to the voices of trans people in our state.”