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Bill banning gender-affirming care for minors advances in Oklahoma Senate

The Oklahoma Legislature took another step toward banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth Wednesday.

Julie Daniels
Abi Ruth Martin
Oklahoma Senate
Julie Daniels

Senate Bill 613 by Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, would punish doctors found in violation of the law by having their licenses revoked and charging them with a felony that could result in up to $100,000 in fines or ten years in prison.

“These transition treatments are permanent, irreversible, and can lead to a host of medical problems later in life. Being transgender, gender non-conforming, or experiencing gender dysphoria is very real, but these are mental, not physical conditions. Children need behavioral and mental health treatment to give them the opportunity to resolve these issues,” Daniels said in a release trumpeting the bill's advancement.

On the Senate Floor, lawmakers battled over their ideals. Some, like Shawnee Republican Shane Jett, compared gender-affirming care for kids to parental abuse.

"We have some parents who chain up their little baby boy and put him in a cage," Jett said. "This happened, I’m not making this up. We have parents who kill their children."

Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, spoke directly to her constituents.

"To the families who have reached out time and time again as their children are being attacked by this body in our words and in our deeds: I do not condone the actions of my colleagues who would seek to deny your mere existence by denying you access to best medical treatments — safe medical treatments," Hicks said.

It has received support from Gov. Kevin Stitt, who called for it to come to his desk, so he could sign it into law at the State of the State earlier this month.

“Minors can’t vote, can’t purchase alcohol, can’t purchase cigarettes… We shouldn’t allow a minor to get a permanent gender altering surgery in Oklahoma,” Stitt said at the time.

Advocates for LGBTQ+ people panned the measure.

“Going against the guidance of every major medical and mental health association, this bill brings the state one step closer toward stripping transgender and nonbinary young people of their right to receive best-practice medical care,” said Troy Stevenson, Director of State Advocacy Campaigns at The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth.

The bill now heads to the House, where it is unlikely to face much opposition from a GOP supermajority.

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Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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