The Arkansas legislature has passed the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act” to prohibit puberty blockers and so-called “sex-change surgeries” from being performed on minors in the state. The legislation, House Bill 1570, called the SAFE Act for short, protects anyone under 18 from unproven, damaging and experimental treatments for gender dysphoria.

As a parenting ministry, Focus on the Family is very concerned about children being harmed by these procedures, which have irreversible, life-long consequences. Children struggling with gender dysphoria need compassionate help, which can often be provided with counseling.

Should Governor Asa Hutchinson sign the bill into law, Arkansas will become the first state in the country to protect minors from puberty blockers and sex-change surgeries.

The legislation states:

“For the small percentage of children who are gender nonconforming or experience distress at identifying with their biological sex, studies consistently demonstrate that the majority come to identify with their biological sex in adolescence or adulthood, thereby rendering most physiological interventions unnecessary.”

“The prescribing of puberty-blocking drugs is being done despite the lack of any long-term longitudinal studies evaluating the risks and benefits of using these drugs for the treatment of such distress or gender transition.”

“Healthcare providers are also prescribing cross-sex hormones for children who experience distress at identifying with their biological sex, despite the fact that no randomized clinical trials have been conducted on the efficacy or safety of the use of cross-sex hormones in adults or children for the purpose of treating such distress or gender transition.”

“Genital gender reassignment surgery includes several irreversible invasive procedures for males and females and involves the alteration of biologically healthy and functional body parts.”

The act goes on to specify: “A physician or other healthcare professional shall not provide gender transition procedures to any individual under eighteen years of age.”

Additionally, the SAFE Act prohibits any public funds from going to organizations that provide sex-change surgeries for minors and prohibits insurance companies from providing coverage for such operations.

H.B. 1570 passed the Arkansas state House on March 10 by a vote of 70-22 and sailed through the state Senate by a vote of 28-7.

The Daily Citizen spoke with Family Council’s Charisse Dean about H.B. 1570. The Arkansas Family Council is a Focus-allied organization that works to “promote, protect, and strengthen traditional family values found and reflected in the Bible by impacting public opinion and public policy in Arkansas.”

“We are so excited and grateful to the Arkansas legislature for passing this legislation,” Dean said. “It’s a good bill and it protects children from experimental gender transition procedures. I want to specifically thank Representative Lundstrum and Senator Clark, who championed this bill in their respective chambers.”

She summarized the bill by saying that in regard to gender transition procedures for minors, “Taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund it, insurers shouldn’t have to cover it, and most importantly children shouldn’t have to experience it.”

Dean also told The Daily Citizen that Family Council does expect Gov. Hutchinson to sign the bill into law. “We do anticipate the governor signing this good bill that protects children and we look forward to celebrating with him,” Dean added.

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU) have come out forcefully against HB 1570, arguing that the bill would “block trans youth from accessing gender-affirming care.”

For clarification, the ACLU’s contention that it is “gender-affirming” to attempt to change one’s sex via surgery is Orwellian doublespeak. It is nonsense. It is impossible to change one’s biological chromosomes, and no amount of puberty blockers or surgeries can affirm a gender that is contrary to one’s biological sex, even if it is able to change someone’s outward appearance.

Dean also spoke to this point. “Sex-reassignment surgeries are experimental. They are not medical care,” she noted, while emphasizing a compassionate response should be taken for those who identify as transgender. “Our hearts go out to children who are suffering from gender-dysphoria. It is a real psychological issue and they should get the counseling they need.”

Indeed, a study cited by conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson states, “the vast majority of pre-pubertal children with gender dysphoria (80–95%) will revert back to a gender identity consistent with their sex.” However, this is only the case if children are not given puberty blockers or sex-change surgery.

Many states have taken an opposite approach to transgender issues by banning talk therapy (counseling) for children and teens struggling with their sexual identity, rather than banning experimental sex-change surgery.

Indeed, the pro-LGBT advocacy group Family Equality notes that 20 states have laws on the books prohibiting talk therapy, but not experimental puberty blockers and sex-change surgeries.

Focus on the Family continues to affirm that there are only two genders: male and female. This is not only a biblical truth taught in the book of Genesis, but biological reality.

Christians can be grateful that the Arkansas legislature has passed commonsense legislation protecting minors. It’s now up to Gov. Hutchinson to sign the bill into law.

LGBT activist groups like the ACLU and GLAAD are pressuring the governor to veto the legislation. Citizens who want to keep health professionals from irreparably damaging children and teens with drugs, hormones and surgeries can call the governor and encourage him to support H.B. 1570. The medical profession should not treat gender-confused children with experimental, harmful procedures. Instead, healthcare professionals should seek to help these children accept and embrace their bodily reality.

You can contact Gov. Hutchinson and encourage him to sign H.B. 1570 into law through his website or by calling 501-682-2345.

Related articles and resources:

Counseling for Sexual Identity Concerns: A Measured, Careful, and Compassionate Approach

Focus on the Family: Transgender Resources

In Victory for Free Speech, Court Strikes Down Bans on Counseling for LGBT Individuals

The Journey Back to My True Identity

When Transgender Issues Enter Your World

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