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Legislators in the US State of Arkansas have approved a bill that bans gender-affirming healthcare for transgender children. The state senate approved the bill by 28 votes to seven with the bill due to pass into state law after sign-off by the governor.

The bill not only bans doctors from providing hormone treatment to minors, it also prohibits them from referring trans minors to other service providers for treatment. In a further blow, it gives insurance companies the right to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for trans adults. The measure is opposed by the American Society of Pediatrics which has confirmed that well-established care pathways for trans children are hugely beneficial for the patients’ mental health.

Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Arkansas’ governor Asa Hutchinson is likely to sign off on the bill within five working days; the Republican has already approved legislation prohibiting trans girls from competing in girls’ school sports teams and, in a move likely to impact LGBTQ+ people, signed into law a bill which allows doctors to refuse to treat someone on moral or religious grounds.

Once approved, the bill will take effect in the summer although the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is likely to launch a legal challenge against the legislation.

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