Arkansas governor vetoes transgender youth treatment ban

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday vetoed legislation that would have made his state the first to ban gender confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth.

The Republican governor rejected legislation that would have prohibited doctors from providing gender confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.

The Republican Legislature could still enact the measure, since it only takes a simple majority to override a governor’s veto in Arkansas.

Hutchinson’s veto follows pleas from pediatricians, social workers, and the parents of transgender youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide.

It was the latest measure targeting transgender people that easily advanced in the Arkansas Legislature and other states this year. ArkansasMississippi and Tennessee’s governors have signed laws banning transgender girls and women from competing on school sports teams consistent with the gender identity.

Hutchinson recently signed a measure allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral or religious objections, a law that opponents have said could be used to turn away LGBTQ patients.

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