Arkansas law would protect gender dysphoric children
Sexuality | A bill banning cross-sex hormones for minors awaits the governor’s signature
by Mary Jackson
Posted 4/02/21, 12:55 pm
After confirming via phone that Vector Health and Wellness of Fayetteville, Ark., would provide transgender hormone medicine to a 14-year-old, Alix Aharon added it to her map. As co-founder of Partners for Ethical Care, she manages the online Gender Mapper Project, which tracks facilities around the world that provide puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex-change surgeries to adolescents and adults. Vector is one of two pediatric gender facilities—marked with purple pins on Aharon’s map—in Arkansas and one of 300 in North America.
Virtually none of them existed 10 years ago.
Now, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has an opportunity to stop the harm that the growing transgender medical complex is inflicting on minors in his state. He has until Monday to sign the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, which would punish medical providers who provide puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or sex-change surgeries to children under 18.
Lawmakers in at least 15 states are considering bills that would restrict medical treatments and surgeries for minors who identify as transgender, according to the pro-LGBT Freedom for All Americans campaign. In Arkansas, providers who violate the law would be subject to a review of their medical license or legal action from the state attorney general, according to the bill.
Last week, Hutchinson, a Republican, signed into law two other bills addressing LGBT issues. One bars biological men who identify as women from competing in women’s sports in public schools or on teams that compete against public schools. Another measure protects doctors who object to providing medical treatments for LGBT individuals that violate their consciences.
Vector joined national LGBT activist groups in campaigning against the SAFE Act, arguing it denies children healthcare and could lead kids who identify as transgender to become suicidal. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas called the measure “one of the most extreme and harmful anti-trans bills in the country.”
State Rep. Robin Lundstrum, a Republican and sponsor of the bill, said giving children puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones causes them harm and is ineffective at dealing with underlying mental health conditions that often contribute to gender dysphoria and suicidal ideation.
Studies show that, on average, up to 80 percent of children with gender dysphoria reconcile with their biological sex and do not continue into adulthood as transgender if they do not receive hormone interventions.
“This is about medical professionals taking advantage of a trend and taking advantage of our children,” Lundstrum said. “This is about kids who 10 years from now will say, ‘Where were all the adults? Why didn’t anyone stand up and say no?’”
Puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones carry known risks for children’s bodies, including sterility, cardiovascular disease, and significant loss of bone density, among other long-term, irreversible effects.
The SAFE Act provides an exception for medical professionals treating minors with medically verified genetic disorders of sex development, sometimes called intersex conditions.
Aharon said without state laws, pediatric gender facilities will continue to pop up, with medical providers profiting off of children with legitimate mental health issues: “Right now, there is nothing preventing these clinics from harming children … anyone can walk in and get hormones.”
Mary is a book reviewer and reporter for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Greenville University graduate who previously worked for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. Mary resides with her family in the San Francisco Bay area. Follow her on Twitter @mbjackson77.