TEXARKANA, Ark. — The satirical website The Onion on Wednesday aimed its barbs at Texarkanian state Sen. Jimmy Hickey Jr. and the Arkansas General Assembly after it overrode Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of a bill concerning young transgender people.
Under the headline "Arkansas Legislator Warns Loophole In New Law Could Still Allow Trans Youth To Exist" and a stock photo of Hickey, The Onion's brief article quotes him fictitiously as it exaggerates a perception that the legislature is anti-transgender.
On Tuesday, both the Arkansas House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to override Hutchinson's veto of the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, which prohibits doctors in the state from providing gender-affirming health care — including hormones, puberty blockers and transition-related surgeries — to transgender minors. Hickey voted for both the original measure and the veto override.
The Onion's article paints Hickey as an anti-transgender extremist.
"'We recognize that this legislation is incomplete, and I assure constituents we are working tirelessly on stopgap measures to end young trans people for good,' said Hickey, who thanked everyone who had brought the issue to his attention in the past several weeks by expressing concern that the bill failed to eliminate thousands of transgender youths already living in the state. At press time, Hickey added that transgender youth would still be permitted to exist in a purely theoretical sense," the article says.
Hickey was a good sport Friday, saying that several people had shared the article with him.
"Stuff like this is all irrelevant to me. I understand that people want to have fun, use satire, but things like that are so far outside of what I deal with, I just laugh. Somebody could have told me it was The Potato," he said.
Founded as a print publication in 1988, The Onion parodies news stories for comic effect, often putting politicians in its satirical crosshairs.