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Shortly before Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill that would make Arkansas the first state to block transition-related care for trans youth, he sat down with two trans women to better understand its impact.
On Tuesday afternoon, the state legislature voted to override Hutchinson’s veto, paving the way for it to take effect if it survives legal challenges. Still, he governor’s veto a day earlier came as a surprise to many LGBTQ advocates around the country, as Hutchinson had already signed two other anti-trans bills, one banning trans girls from girl’s scholastic sports, and the other a sweeping religious exemption for health care providers who can now turn away LGBTQ patients for non-emergencies.
An account of the meeting between the Republican governor, the state’s only openly trans elected official, and an 18-year-old trans women may shed some light on Hutchinson’s surprising opposition to the bill.
The meeting, on March 30, was expected to last 30 minutes, according to Evelyn Rios Stafford, a Justice of the Peace in Fayetteville, who is openly trans.
But the governor had so many questions that it ran 10 minutes long, she said.
“He had a lot of questions,” Rios Stafford told Insider. “I could tell that this was not an issue that he was super familiar with at all.”
A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to questions about the meeting, but Hutchinson has said that he met with trans people and healthcare providers before reaching his decision. The young trans woman who was also present was not immediately available to discuss it.
Rios Stafford said that, as she watched the governor’s press conference less than a week after they had sat across from one another, she heard him echo some of what had come up in their closed-door meeting.
“The bill is overbroad, extreme, and does not grandfather those who are under hormone treatment,” Hutchinson said during his press conference. “I want people in Arkansas and across the country that whether they’re transgender or otherwise, that they’re loved, they’re appreciated, they make part of our state, and we want to send the message of tolerance and diversity.”
The message meant a lot to Rios Stafford, who said she can’t remember a southern Republican governor ever saying that trans people are loved, important members of the state.
Arkansas’ bill, HB 1570, bans puberty blockers and other transition-related care for trans minors. But it is not just limited to harming trans kids, and introduces a host of further restrictions on care for trans adults. It bans state funds, such as Medicaid, from being used towards transition care for trans people of any age.
Studies have shown that puberty blockers help relieve dysphoria triggered by an adolescent’s puberty, and vastly improves mental health overall. The treatment is widely accepted within the medical community, with endorsements from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the Endocrine Society, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and the American College of Obstetricians …read more
Source:: Business Insider
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