May 1, 2021

Chris Attig, a parent who uses they/them pronouns, was arrested while testifying against an exclusionary, discriminatory anti-trans bill at the Arkansas statehouse on March 9. The bill, as previously covered at Daily Kos, would bar physicians from providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender and nonbinary youth. House Bill 1570, misleadingly called the “Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act” would bar access to a wide range of gender-affirming treatments, including puberty blockers and hormonal therapy. As we know, this health care can literally be lifesaving for transgender folks of all ages, including youth.

Attig spoke over their allotted two-minute time limit by about thirty seconds, and claims that representatives of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, like the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom, were able to speak far beyond the time limit without arrest. If you’re wondering what kind of radical language Attig was using, their statement included a message to transgender youth, for example: “No matter what happens here today, you are loved.” Words that are abhorrent apparently only to Republicans. Attig, who now faces a disorderly conduct charge, has given their first interview since their arrest.

In an interview with LGBTQ+ publication them. on Tuesday, Attig said they were shocked “sitting there in jail thinking that this is what happens when you speak to people about how their proposed laws are affecting your children.” Attig stressed that they “don’t want to hear it. They put you in jail.”

While making their statement, Attig described the anti-trans legislation as unconstitutional and introduced themselves as a business owner who “pays tens of thousands of dollars in taxes to this state and who employs transgender workers. … I am offended that you would squander our limited taxpayer resources paying lawyers to defend this infantile nonsense in federal court.” Attig, who is the parent of a 22-year-old transgender son, told lawmakers there are “more genders” and “more biological sexes” than they will ever understand.

Attig also noted that “diversity and inclusion are good for business” and that “no economy in the history of the world has flourished under policies of hatred.” They also brought up North Carolina (likely in reference to the state’s transphobic bathroom bills) as an example of states losing business over exclusionary legislation.

At two minutes, Republican state Rep. Jack Ladyman told Attig their time was up. Attig kept speaking from what appeared to be a prewritten statement, was told their time was up, and then lawmakers cut Attig’s mic. Security was directed to remove them as they continued to speak, and according to Attig, they were taken to the local jail in a police car, where they spent several hours.

In speaking to them, Attig noted that this particular legislation won’t actually help their son, as he is no longer a minor. Still, however, Attig feels the need to be an advocate for transgender folks of all ages, telling the outlet: “Whether or not these laws are targeted at somebody above or below the age of 18, the singular message that they send is it is OK to bully and persecute people who are trans.” Attig summed up one of the big scale issues with these bills, saying, “It says, ‘The legislature is doing it, why can’t I?”

If this bill sounds strangely familiar, that’s because it got a lot of attention after Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed it in early April, citing its government overreach. Shortly thereafter Hutchinson’s veto, however, lawmakers voted to override his veto and make the bill into law. As of now, the bill would take effect in the state starting in July.

You can watch the video of Attig’s testimony above, which they uploaded to YouTube.

Posted with permission from Daily Kos.

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