LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The SAFE Act now heads to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s desk for action. The Save Adolescents From Experimentation bans those under 18 years of age from receiving any type of gender reassignment treatment.
These treatments include puberty blockers, cross hormone treatments, and surgical procedure.
Joanna Brandt has a transgendered teen and believes any decision relating to the subject is for them to seek.
“I sought the advice and expertise of medical professionals, the idea of consulting lawmakers never occurred to me,” she said.
Pediatricians fall on both sides of this bill. Dr. Natalie Burr is a pediatrician in Arkansas and believes this bill would force her to withhold care from her patients.
“Part of my job as a general pediatrician is to coordinate that care. I never imagined that it could one day be illegal for me to refer one of my patients to appropriate care,” Burr said.
Dr. Grady Crosland said there are times where those therapies are appropriate and this bill does not block those instances,
“This bill simply refers to those who are looking at a transition, a gender transitional phenomenon,” he said.
Crosland noted that a majority of teens wanting to transition are girls, saying the culture of affirmation and acceptance drives them to these decisions and they can become instant celebrities. He also believes there is not enough long-term study on how puberty blockers or cross hormone drugs affect adolescents.
“I want it to be evidence-based. I don’t want it to be politically driven or culturally driven,” Crosland said.
Burr said she believes suicide rates among the trans teen population would dip dramatically if they can seek those options, adding that the bill had many in the trans community upset as it went through the process.
“I’ve heard from local colleagues that just since this bill passed in the House of Representatives there’s been an increase in ER visits for suicidal ideation and attempts in our transgender patients,” she said.
Brandt believes the government should leave parenting to parents.
“So they are telling me and other parents that they don’t trust us to make the right decisions for our kids?” she asked.
The bill passed out of the Senate by a 28-7 vote and out of the House 70-22.