The conservative government of Arkansas is in the midst of an all-out assault on the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly youths battling with gender dysphoria. A spate of bills, issued by the State House and Senate, have been aimed at transgender girls in school sports, gender transition therapies for minors, and preventing people and institutions who refuse medical care on the basis of “conscience” from facing consequences for their actions. The first and last of these have already been signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson. The second, House Bill 1570, is up for final reading and vote by the Senate tomorrow, March 29.
HB1570 threatens the sapling in a direct and tangible way. Despite the fact that I know my voice carries no weight with my State Senator, I sent a letter to her. I figure, what the hell, I’ll post it here too.
I write to you this evening as a concerned father and Arkansas citizen, regarding House Bill 1570. I do so with all the bitter futility of a castaway treading water in the midst of the Pacific Ocean—in full knowledge that my plea to vote against HB1570, to stop this vicious legislation from doing the tangible harm that it is guaranteed to do, likely means nothing to you. The plea remains, for I must tread water: my child depends upon it.
I beg you to consider that the hormone therapies referenced in this bill are no more experimental in their stated uses than they are when prescribed to children undergoing “precocious puberty” or to mature Arkansans with glandular deficiencies. These therapies are well known, have been in use for decades, and their effects (both positive and negative) are openly discussed with young patients and their parents. No hormonal therapy is ever undergone with the sort of flippant attitude suggested in the wording of this bill. Psychological counseling precedes any physiological intervention, ensuring that no child enters the transition process without showing acknowledged signs of gender dysphoria. The steps taken thereafter follow rigorous protocols, in tandem with blood tests and vital statistic monitoring, to ensure that the therapy is not causing harm to the patient. Signs of negative effects result in immediate cessation of therapy. These are facts the medical community have attempted to explain, only to have been shut down and ignored.
Still, I continue to tread water.
I would suggest that you consider that no surgical interventions are performed on minors who are in the care of gender transition specialists. Knowing that some children do come to reconsider their gender presentation, medical professionals limit gender transition care on minors to non-invasive, easily reversible hormonal and psychological therapies. The authors of HB1570 seem to believe that vaginoplasties, mastectomies, phalloplasties, and breast implants are being done on minors seeking gender transition. They are not and I would challenge any of you to find tangible evidence that they are. The medical community has also tried to explain this, to no avail.
My arms and legs grow weary, yet still I tread.
I could offer that puberty blockers are helpful in preventing a child who struggles with gender dysphoria form developing the secondary sex characteristics that make adult gender transition so expensive, dangerous, and difficult—or that they keep transgender boys from experiencing periods, which are a source of intense trauma for them. I could add that transgender people who complete their transition and end up committing suicide do so because their existence is continuously oppressed by cruel legislation like this—that the fact that transgender individuals still suffer depression is not a qualification to deny them care. I could point out that this bill would also deny gender dysphoric youth the psychological care they require to address that dysphoria—that this WILL result in children taking their lives needlessly. The medical community has tried all of this. That ship has sunk.
I remain helplessly fighting to hold my child’s head above water, knowing that the waves will take us both.
My request as your constituent stands: please, in the name of whatever Christian compassion resides within you, vote AGAINST HB1570.
Vote against HB1570 with love for your transgender constituents and the trans children who will some day become voting, taxpaying citizens of this state.
Vote against HB1570 with understanding that children who are refused this care suffer from crippling depression, which drives many of them to suicide.
Vote against HB1570 as if the world is watching Arkansas…because it is.
We, as a state, can be better than the hate and ignorance that backs these pieces of legislation. We must be.
Thank you for your time.
[A scared, angry tree]
I don’t know what else we can do. If this bill clears the Senate and is signed into law, we cannot stay here.