Willow Breshears and Carmen Gresham are on the same path now; strong trans women in Arkansas—advocating for their rights and those of people just like them. But their experiences in getting here, couldn't be more different.
For Carmen,now a registered nurse, the delay in treatment made her college years during transition painful ones. She says having access to gender affirming care at a younger age would have made all the difference both mentally and financially.
Right now, there are doctors in Arkansas who prescribe hormones, puberty blockers and perform gender reassignment surgery. But if the state’s lawmakers have any say, that will soon be off the table. The legislature passed the “SAFE Act” which would forbid doctors from conducting any form of gender affirming care to children under 18, even with parental consent. State lawmakers overruled Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto. The law would be the first in the nation and was just put on hold by a district judge.
Charisse Dean of the Family Council who helped author this bill says it shouldn’t be up to parents or doctors, but the government, to decide what is safe for children in this instance. She says counseling is a better option and that some children will grow out of it. But Willow says she believes the impact of this law will be profound and will lead to higher suicide rates - something the Trevor Project says more than half of young trans people have said they’ve considered.