Arkansas is establishing a reputation as the worst state in the country for women’s medical rights and as a terrible, even dangerous, place to be gay, lesbian or — particularly — transgender people. This is not a plus for economic development, at least not among the sorts of businesses you’d hope to attract.

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Maybe Governor Hutchinson will resist signing the bill to punish transgender girls from participating in school sports (if one ever tries) on the off-chance it might cost the state some lucrative NCAA or other sporting events. He doesn’t seem likely to have the guts to veto the bill awaiting his pen that allows people to deny medical and health insurance services on so-called moral grounds. (Be sure authors of this bill have LGBT people and women in crisis in mind, not a lecherous legislator bent on some blue pills for a night of adultery.)

If the Chamber of Commerce would save us from this cruelty, I’d take it, but their reticence is a measure of the dominance of the blind intolerance of the Arkansas legislature these days.

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The battle seems hopeless, despite overwhelming medical opposition, to defeat the coming bill to deny treatment to transgender children. Hope for courage from the governor again seems slight. He still thinks he can pass a hate crimes bill, unwilling to accept that it is a non-starter in this legislature if it offers a shred of comfort to LGBT people.

The legislature truncated all the wrenching personal testimony against the anti-LGBT legislation, with more on the way. Their disinterest was palpable.

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Changing those minds and putative hearts? Not likely. Nonetheless, I urge others, as the ACLU’s Holly Dickson has done, to read the cry from the heart of the mother of a transgender son:

A portion of it, addressed by the mother to Mercy:

… did you know that trans people are more likely to be raped, sexually assaulted, attacked, abused, murdered, sex trafficked, and, let’s face it: generally maligned and mistreated by our society than other people?
These are the people, Mercy, from whom my state legislators want to protect us.
Oh, no, I’m sorry, it’s actually the child forms of these very vulnerable people. The small ones, Mercy. They are trying to prevent the small ones and their parents from alleviating their suffering under the care of licensed physicians.
Are you angry yet, Mercy?
Take a deep breath, because I said all that to soften the blow of this:
Kids like Desmond attempt suicide at a rate of over 50%.
Youths. Children. Little boys. They want to die. Can you imagine, Mercy? Can you imagine what their futures must look like to them?
So when I was standing over the bed of my child, when it was him who wanted to die? It was with me every moment that the roulette gun of possibly losing him sat, half-loaded, in my child’s heart.
As it turns out, it was put there by me. And you. And all of us. Because this is our society, and we know what drastically improves outcomes for trans youth: an affirming culture and transition. Our science has taught us that.
Puberty blockers could have spared him so much suffering.
That is where the SAFE legislation, legislation here in Arkansas that intends to prevent kids like Desmond from seeking treatment to align their bodies with their brains, reveals itself to be, at its core, an act of vicious, reprehensible malice — puberty blockers, which push pause on puberty, but do not create lasting changes to bone and flesh, are prohibited by the bill. Why? It shows, I think, that these legislators want to harm, not protect. They want these kids to suffer when there is a way to alleviate their suffering, why?

Yes. Why.

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