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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas, March 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The Arkansas Senate voted 28-7 on Monday to give final approval to legislation that would prohibit sex-reassignment surgery or hormone treatments to minors afflicted with gender confusion, with the fate of the potential law now in Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s hands.

The bill specifically bars physicians from performing or referring for “gender transition procedures” on residents under age 18, as well as taxpayer dollars from being spent on such procedures for minors. 

“Gender transition procedures” are defined as “ any medical or surgical service” that seeks to “alter or remove physical or anatomical characteristics or features that are typical for the individual’s biological sex”; or “instill or create physiological or anatomical characteristics that resemble a sex different from the individual’s biological sex.”

The legislation encompasses “puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, or other mechanisms to promote the development of feminizing or masculinizing features in the opposite biological sex, or genital or nongenital gender reassignment surgery performed for the purpose of assisting an individual with a gender transition.”

The bill, which previously passed the State House 70-22, “sets out to protect children in an area where they very much need protection,” according to Republican state Sen. Alan Clark, a sponsor of the measure. He noted that, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 90 percent of minors who struggle with gender dysphoria eventually come to accept their true sex.

The bill has elicited intense condemnation by pro-LGBT activists and their allies, such as the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

A range of scientific literature indicates that reinforcing gender confusion often fails to prevent significant emotional harm up to and including attempted suicide (with or without surgery), because fixating on “gender affirmation” tends to distract from exploring other issues that may be the actual root of a patient’s mental or emotional unrest.

On top of those issues, experts warn that surgically or chemically reinforcing gender confusion imposes irreversible harm on children such as infertility, impairment of adult sex function, and reduced life expectancy, as well as the psychological toll of being “locked into” physical alterations regardless of whether they change their minds when they mature.

Hutchinson’s office has said it will review the legislation before he decides to sign it. The governor has recently signed multiple socially-conservative pieces of legislation over left-wing objections, including a ban on biological males in women’s athletic programs and a ban on nearly all abortions.