Medical opinion is nearly universally negative about this legislation. It would be the first of its kind in the country. Arkansas pediatricians rallied against the bill Saturday at the Capitol.
Debate by proponents has included Biblical references concerning transgender people, with one legislator, Rep. Mary Bentley, calling them an “abomination.” This bill is one of at least eight pieces of legislation aimed at essentially denying the existence of transgender people. Doctors who work with transgender children say it will lead to suicides. Governor Hutchinson also has pending before him a bill meant to discourage schools from mentioning sexual orientation and transgender people in curriculum. He’s already signed two anti-transgender bills — a ban on transgender girls in girls’ sports and protection of medical providers who deny services on account of “conscience.”
Hutchinson has said he’s studying the legislation and has met with Dr. Michele Hutchinson, the pediatric endocrinologist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital who heads a program providing counseling and other services to transgender children. She told the Democrat-Gazette the governor had asked good questions and she was “cautiously optimistic” he might not sign it. It would become law without his signature. Should he veto it, a simple majority vote in both chambers would be necessary to override the veto.
The governor’s meeting with reporters will be live-streamed on his YouTube channel.