Arkansas governor vetoes ban on youth transgender care

The bill would have marked an escalation in the GOP’s efforts to enact anti-transgender measures in statehouses around the country this year. It was strongly opposed by medical experts and LGBTQ advocates, who warned it would interrupt with needed care.

The Republican-controlled Arkansas legislature, however, can still override his veto with simple majority votes in both chambers — a step that Hutchinson said he expects lawmakers will take.

Should lawmakers override Hutchinson’s veto, Arkansas doctors could face discipline from the state licensing board for providing transgender youth with gender-conforming hormone treatment or surgery or making referrals for the care.

A similar measure Alabama lawmakers could take up as soon as this week would make it a felony for doctors to provide such care to minors, punishable with up to 10 years in jail. The Alabama Senate already approved the bill 23-4 along partisan lines.

Hutchinson, meanwhile, has recently signed two bills similar to anti-transgender efforts in other states. Those include bills prohibiting transgender girls from playing on competitive sports consistent with their gender identity and another allowing doctors to refuse patients based on moral or religious grounds — an effort that LGBTQ advocates saw aimed at limiting care for transgender patients.

The measure Hutchinson vetoed on Monday, however, he said represents “interference by the state in a parent, child, doctor-patient relationship.”

Hutchinson said he didn’t receive pressure from corporations to veto the measure since the legislature passed it a week ago, but he said he would not be surprise if the state receives backlash — particularly in light of the reaction to Georgia’s election legislation.