Arkansas became the first state on Monday to pass a bill prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender children, treatments that major medical organizations describe as essential to the mental health of an already vulnerable community of young people.
Lawmakers voted 28 to 7 in favor of the bill, which would ban doctors from providing transgender minors with gender-affirming treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies and transition-related surgeries, or referring them for such treatments.
The legislation is the first to pass among a series of similar bills introduced by Republican lawmakers in more than 17 states so far this year, part of a growing effort by politicians to restrict the rights of transgender young people across America — in both doctor’s offices and high school sports teams.
The bill will now be sent to the desk of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who last week signed a law banning transgender girls from competing in school sports teams consistent with their gender identity. He also signed legislation last week allowing doctors to refuse treatment to a patient based on religious or moral objections.