The Arkansas legislature overrode Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that prohibits providing hormone treatments, puberty blockers, or gender reassignment surgeries to minors.
Hutchinson surprised conservatives by vetoing HB 1570, the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act.” The act prohibits giving hormone treatments or puberty blockers to or performing transgender surgical procedures on children.
The text says that the state has a compelling interest in protecting minors from treatments that have not been thoroughly tested, but already show several adverse effects on minors. The law also claims the treatments are not necessary, saying,
“For the small percentage of children who are gender nonconforming or experience distress at identifying with their biological sex, studies consistently demonstrate that the majority come to identify with their biological sex in adolescence or adulthood, thereby rendering most physiological interventions unnecessary; Furthermore, scientific studies show that individuals struggling with distress at identifying with their biological sex often have already experienced psychopathology, which indicates these individuals should be encouraged to seek mental health services to address comorbidities and underlying causes of their distress before undertaking any hormonal or surgical intervention; Even among people who have undergone inpatient gender reassignment procedures, suicide rates, psychiatric morbidities, and mortality rates remain markedly elevated above the background population.”
It was somewhat surprising that Hutchinson vetoed the bill considering that he recently signed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, a law which bans biological males from participating in women’s sports.
Hutchinson said in a statement,
“This is a government overreach. You are starting to let lawmakers interfere with healthcare and set a standard for legislation overriding healthcare. The state should not presume to jump into every ethical health decision…. If this was just to ban gender reassignment then I would support it, but those who are taking treatment are not grandfathered in, this is not the right path to put them on…. While the population of minors dealing with this is an extreme minority, this could lead to significant harms from suicide to drug use to isolation.”
Hutchinson recently sparred with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, claiming that signing the law would have betrayed the conservative principles of limited government. Hutchinson said decisions should be left to parents, children, and doctors.
“Then why don’t we allow 18-year-olds to drink beer in Arkansas? Why don’t we allow them to get tattoos? Why don’t we allow 15-year-olds to get married?” Carlson replied. “You vetoed a bill that would’ve protected children — not adults — children, to whom a different standard applies, from a life-altering, permanent procedure.”
Carlson pushed Hutchinson on whether the governor had researched any studies on the harmful side effects of transgender treatments, even suggesting the governor had been swayed by corporations. Carlson followed up the interview by claiming Hutchinson lied about speaking to corporations.
The conservative media host accurately pointed out that there are limited studies regarding these treatments, and those that exist show negative side effects, including increased risk for cancer, osteoporosis, heart attacks, and irreversible infertility.
In the U.K., a high court ruled that puberty blockers cannot be given to minors under the age 16. In its ruling the court said, “It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers. It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers.”
Studies have shown that puberty blockers have negative effects on minors’ bone density. One nine-year study showed the treatments significantly impact bone growth. Researchers wrote, “In both cases (height and bone strength) there was some growth but less than would be expected during those years without hormonal suppression.” They noted additional research is needed to tell if the effects are irreversible.
In a Heritage Foundation panel discussion, Dr. Michael Laidlaw lamented the lack of reasoned and scientific debate on the topic of using medical and surgical interventions to treat gender dysphoria. He said, “This whole thing is an experiment on children. We are ignoring the voices of desisters and people who have come out of this and recognize their sex. And the NIH is allowing unethical research to be conducted on adolescents, in my opinion.”
Oxford Professor Dr. Michael Biggs found that children at the Tavistock gender clinic receiving treatment “reported greater self-harm with these particular medications, and girls exhibited greater emotional problems and dissatisfaction with their bodies.”
The fact is, transgender treatments are not healthcare, but instead do irreparable harm to children who heretofore had perfectly healthy bodies. Children who experience anxiety regarding their bodies or their biological sex don’t need to be told that they are the wrong sex. They need to be told that they are made how God intended.
As the Arkansas law notes, many of these children have other psychological issues as well. These children need psychological help, not experimental and harmful treatments that damage their bodies.
The very few studies done so far on transgenders show that puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical procedures inflict real damage to children’s health and irreversible effects on normal body function in the short term — and no one has a clue as to what will become of these children over the long-term because the data simply does not exist. If the medical profession has no idea of the potential consequences of these “treatments,” then how can anyone expect children to truly grasp the impact of what they think they need or say they want?
There are laws that prohibit minors from using tobacco products, buying alcohol, viewing an R-rated movie, or even working. Giving a child hormone treatments that will throw them into early menopause or weaken their bones or surgically removing functioning parts of their bodies is not treatment nor is it compassionate.
If the state has an interest in preventing the mutilation of children’s bodies and has an interest in preventing doctors from conducting medical experiments on children, then it has an interest in banning transgender treatments for minors.