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Cuomo Asked to Ban Non-Essential State Travel to Arkansas Over Transgender Laws

NEW YORK NOW - One of the few openly gay members of the state Legislature is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban non-essential state travel to Arkansas after lawmakers there approved a pair of bills targeted at transgender youth and athletes in recent weeks. Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell, D-Manhattan, asked Cuomo in a letter Friday to issue the ban, calling the new Arkansas laws “dangerous and harmful.”

O’Donnell wrote. There’s precedent for the request; Cuomo  blocked non-essential state travel to North Carolina five years ago when the state banned transgender people from using public bathrooms that aligned more closely with their gender identity. And Cuomo has taken similar action against the states of Indiana and Mississippi when they approved legislation targeted at transgender individuals as well. Now, O’Donnell wants Cuomo to do the same with Arkansas. “It is frustrating and heartbreaking that we have to call for and impose yet another travel ban in response to yet another state enacting dangerous and harmful anti-trans legislation,” O’Donnell wrote. Most recently, state lawmakers in Arkansas approved legislation that makes it illegal for transgender youth to receive gender-affirming care, like surgery and hormones. That applies to transgender individuals under the age of 18. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson had vetoed the bill in early April, but the state Legislature there overrode that action. A second bill, supported by Hutchinson, bans transgender individuals  from particpating on a sports team that doesn’t match their biological sex. A transgender woman is not allowed to join a female sports team, for example. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has said  it’s planning litigation to challenge those laws. Representatives for Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment on O’Donnell’s letter.