Update (2:15pm on Monday, April 5):
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has officially vetoed HB 1570. At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Hutchinson described the bill as “a major overreach.” Although the governor’s veto will likely be overridden by Republicans in Arkansas’ general assembly, advocates like ACLU attorney Chase Strangio view the decision as a major win — and an example of just how effective grassroots activism can be.
“Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, tweeted Gov. Hutchinson,” Strangio tweeted. “This is a powerful rebuke of this nightmare legislation. I hope Alabama is watching.”
Thank you, @AsaHutchinson. You did the right thing here.
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) April 5, 2021
LGBTQ activists are pleading with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a bill that could have devastating repercussions for transgender youth.
Last week, lawmakers in both chambers of Arkansas’ state legislature voted to advance House Bill 1570, which aims to prevent trans kids from accessing gender-affirming health care by criminalizing medical providers who offer it. The bill has been described as unethical and unnecessary, and the ACLU has already vowed to contest it in court if it is signed into law. Pediatricians across the Wonder State have also rallied against the measure, citing the life-saving capabilities of trans health care.
UPDATE: We have until MONDAY to stop Arkansas' HB 1570 from taking effect.
This bill will put trans lives at risk. We can't let it pass. pic.twitter.com/07I3JRErUQ
— ACLU (@ACLU) April 2, 2021
What’s more, trans people in Arkansas are terrified. “We’ve had parents, grandparents, trans people, medical professionals come and testify against these bills,” local activist Rumba Yambu told Vox. Still, lawmakers are “just not listening.”
HB 1570 isn’t the first bill of its kind, but it is the first anti-trans health care ban in the United States to actually reach a governor’s desk. As such, prominent LGBTQ activists like ACLU attorney Chase Strangio and writer-organizer Raquel Willis have mobilized their followings to demand that Hutchinson veto the bill.
Across the country, activists are simultaneously battling dozens of anti-transgender bills in more than 25 different states, including Montana, Tennessee, Alabama, and more. We’re less than four months into 2021, but this year’s anti-trans “legislative boom” already constitutes a disturbing record high.
Hutchinson is expected to weigh in on HB 1570 at 1pm CST today (Monday, April 5).
“No matter what happens we fight on,” Strangio tweeted Monday. “All the love to trans people this AM.”
This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.