Just a few days ago, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill that would’ve blocked minors from getting gender-reassignment surgery and hormone treatments, noting that the proposal was a government overreach. But the Arkansas legislature recently overrode that decision on a House vote of 71-24 and Senate vote of 25-8.
The debate over whether or not the state could prevent doctors from prescribing hormones to minors came up during the nomination hearing of Dr. Rachel Levine, the first transgender official to be confirmed by the Senate. Dr. Levine has advocated for the chemical castration of children questioning their sexuality, otherwise known as gender dysphoria, and has held several controversial beliefs on the topic of pediatric medicine. But according to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria is also a result of significant psychological distress.
While Arkansas already banned gender transition surgeries for minors and prohibited biological males from competing in women’s sports, the new bill, House Bill 1570, would also prohibit minors from getting referrals for surgery as well as reassignment hormone treatments. Gov. Hutchinson argued against the bill and said it would create a “new standard of legislative interference” with physicians and parents as they deal with complex and sensitive matters involving minors. He also notes that HB 1570, if passed, would also stop anyone currently receiving gender-reassignment treatments.
“I don’t shy away from the battle when it is necessary and defensible, but the most recent action of the general assembly while well-intended, is off-course and I must veto,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
Gov. Hutchinson received a lot of criticism over vetoing the bill, particularly because he’s a Republican. He went on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to explain to viewers why he rejected the legislature and said that it had been completely misrepresented. He said he would’ve passed the bill if it only restricted gender-confirming surgery, but that it was “overbroad” in regards to hormone treatment, surgery, and puberty blockers to anyone under 18 years old. He said he was afraid that he would harm a community that is already at risk for depression and suicide.
Carlson, however, argues that self-harm and suicide are also a component of taking hormone drugs. He cited a U.K study that had reported children having self-harm thoughts after taking puberty-blocking hormones. When he asked Hutchinson to provide specific studies that point to the improvement of mental health regarding the intake of puberty blockers or undergoing surgery, the governor grew quiet.
“If someone ten years ago said you are going to be governor of Arkansas and you are going to veto a bill that would have protected children from chemical castration, what do you think you would have said?” Carlson asked.
Gov. Hutchinson responded that he was worried about the children who are currently on hormone blockers and would be stripped of their treatments and medications immediately. But it is not government overreach to prevent children from being shot up with hormone blockers in the first place, especially when scientific studies show that these medications do more harm than good. For someone who believes that the state involvement in medical procedures should be “limited,” Gov. Hutchinson had no problem signing a handful of pro-life bills. What’s the difference in regards to hurting children here?