Governor Hutchinson’s moment to decide comes soon on HB 1570, to deny medically necessary treatment for transgender youth.
The negative reviews of Arkansas’ anti-trans legislation pile up.
Here from CNN is an article by Dr. Jack Urban, a Stanford medical fellow in child psychiatry, who says the law already signed to allow “conscience” objections to services is unethical and dangerous.
The most obvious damage this law will cause for the people of Arkansas will be to limit access to certain treatments that have become politicized. This will likely include things like gender-affirming surgeries or medications for transgender people and abortion care. Of note, the state legislature also just passed a law that would explicitly outlaw gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, despite opposition from major medical organizations and data linking gender-affirming care to lower odds of transgender people considering suicide. That bill is awaiting the governor’s signature.
But Dr. Jennifer Gunter, obstetrician gynecologist, women’s health expert and author of “The Menopause Manifesto,” noted in an interview with me that the negative impacts of the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act may go beyond these highly politicized treatments. “What if your insurer decides your cancer is a result of immoral behavior because you were once a smoker? The potential for abuse is huge and frightening.”This new law means that health care can be blocked at various stages along the health care delivery chain. Let’s say a doctor agrees to prescribe your medication — a pharmacist could still refuse to dispense it based on whatever “moral” grounds they assert. Even if the physician and pharmacist agree to give you the medication, your insurance company could refuse to pay for it.Proponents of the law have been quick to point out that it only applies to “non-emergency care.” But we need to keep in mind that people die from “non-emergencies.”
Also today from Vox is an article that says bluntly about the national anti-trans movement:
Let’s stop pretending bills denying trans kids health care are something other than bigotry that will get children killed.
The article covers action in several states, but Arkansas’s leadership provides a lot of material. The author writes that the efforts are about demonizing trans people and preventing the transition they need. Why?
Trans people are a lot harder to demonize when you can’t tell who we are, when we could just be another girl on the volleyball team or another lead actor in the high school play. Clinging to the harmful stereotype of “scary man in a dress” — which is the stereotype used to prop up so much of this transphobia — all but requires making it logistically impossible for someone to transition until they are well into adulthood. (But also, be nice to someone you think is a man wearing a dress. I’ve been her, and it’s really, really scary.)
The Arkansas bill specifically ties “gender” to reproductive organs. That move effectively defines “womanhood” as an ability to bear children, which is so self-evidently a hop, skip, and jump away from an attack on abortion rights that it should give anyone in support of those rights serious pause.
But even more egregious is the bill’s privileging of reproductive capacity and the idea that a presumed horror awaiting trans children as they grow to adulthood is an inability to have biological children. As an adopted person (who will likely have to adopt children herself for reasons unrelated to my transness), this particular argument waged by anti-trans forces is particularly offensive. It’s also a signal of how American society remains deeply biased in favor of cisgender heterosexuals who pair off and have children, despite the fact that we know how many queer people, of all stripes, exist within our world.
Cue Ebenezer, the hymn employing the words of poet James Russell Lowell as we await the governor’s decision on signing, vetoing or allowing HB 1570 to become law:
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses
While the coward stands aside,