In early April, the Arkansas state legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto to pass HB 1570. It is the first law in the U.S. that effectively bans transgender health care by prohibiting clinicians in Arkansas from performing or referring pediatric patients for medical treatments that have been roundly endorsed by the health care community and empirically proven to reduce the distress of transgender adolescents at risk for or suffering from gender dysphoria.
The Arkansas law has the potential to impact pediatric health care in many other states. In 2021, 20 states have introduced legislation limiting or prohibiting transgender health care for youth. These bills are in addition to nearly 100 other bills on transgender issues in state legislatures across the country. To overturn this law that could cause harm to transgender youth, a legal challenge, Brandt, et al. v. Rutledge, et al., was recently filed in federal district court in Arkansas.
The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) joined the American Academy of Pediatrics and 17 other national and state health care and education organizations in submitting an amicus brief in the case on June 23. The brief provides relevant, evidence-based information developed and approved by experts that the court may want to consider before making its ruling.
In its position statement Health Risks and Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth, NAPNAP notes its opposition to all forms of discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation, gender conformity and gender identity, while encouraging pediatric clinicians and advocates to speak out against discrimination and/or victimization of LGBTQ youth. Further, it recommends that health care providers as well as the health care environment should support and promote an LGBTQ-safe space for all youth and an atmosphere of acceptance to facilitate health care interactions.
NAPNAP believes that providing evidence-based support to overturn the Arkansas law aligns with our position and is a critical step in preventing negative health outcomes for transgender youth and improving health disparities in Arkansas and across the country.