A ban on gender transition services, including hormone therapy and surgery, for transgender minors seeking gender reassignment was passed in the Arkansas Legislature but vetoed April 5 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
However, the legislature overrode the governor’s veto to enact House Bill 1570, known as Save Adolescents From Experimentation or SAFE.
Transgender surgeries are currently not performed on children in the state, according to an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article.
The governor said during an April 5 press conference that as a state, Arkansas wants to “send a message of tolerance and diversity” and that the bill was a “product of the cultural war in America.” According to an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article, Hutchinson stated the bill was “overbroad, extreme and does not grandfather young people currently on hormone treatment.”
Arkansas is the first in the United States to pass this kind of law. The American Civil Liberties Union vowed to challenge the bill in court.
The Diocese of Little Rock released a statement regarding the bill April 7:
“The Diocese of Little Rock did not take, and was not asked to take, a particular position on HB1570 when it was under consideration. The diocese affirms the Church’s constant teaching that -- with the rare exception of one’s reproductive organs not matching one’s chromosomes -- our gender is to be considered harmonious with our biological sex and thus should not be subject to change. Whether HB1570 is the best way to adequately address that truth for adolescents and minors may be up for debate and differing prudential judgments. But it is not inconsistent to oppose any form of bullying, harassment and violence against LGBT youth, which Bishop (Anthony B.) Taylor did when signing on to the Tyler Clementi Foundation statement, while simultaneously affirming the truths of our created biological sex. As Catholics, we believe that eternal truths are ultimately for our good, even when we may personally struggle or disagree with them.”
Bishop Taylor, along with 12 other U.S. bishops at the time, signed a joint statement in February that promoted the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth from bullying. The Tyler Clementi Foundation, a nonprofit that works to end LGBTQ bullying and harassment in schools, workplaces and faith communities, drafted the statement. The nonprofit was founded in memory of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, who died by suicide Sept. 22, 2010, after being the target of anti-gay cyberbullying.
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