The Arkansas Senate on Monday approved a bill that would ban access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
Titled the “Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” the legislation specifically prohibits “gender transition procedures for minors.” The bill would make it unlawful for any physician or other healthcare professional to “provide [or refer] gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen (18) years of age.” The bill states that any provision or referral constitutes unprofessional conduct “subject to discipline by the appropriate licensing entity or disciplinary review board.”
The bill also establishes a private cause of action in which an individual may “assert an actual or threatened violation of this subchapter as a claim in a judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain compensatory damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or any other appropriate relief.”
With other bills like this gaining traction throughout the country, this could be the first domino to fall in a series of legislation that will seriously curb progress made by the trans community over the last two decades. In a statement released last Friday, Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project, implored supporters to call on Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson stating “the consequences of this bill [becoming law] would be catastrophic.”
The bill will now go to Hutchinson for approval. Just in the past week Hutchinson has signed into law bills that ban transgender athletes from women’s sports and allow medical workers to refuse to treat LGBTQ patients due to religious or moral objections.