Oklahoma bill banning gender-affirming care for trans youth heads to governor's desk
Updated: April 28 at 8:28 a.m.
A bill banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth is headed to the governor's desk.
The Oklahoma Senate Republican majority passed Senate Bill 613 Thursday night along party lines, by a vote of 37 to 8.
Among other things, the bill 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.
Opponents of the legislation warn that lawmakers are "inflicting cruel and intentional harm" on transgender youth.
"Our government should not interfere with the care we receive, the curriculum our schools teach, or what information we can safely share with a trusted doctor or teacher. But almost every day this session, politicians have pushed laws that infringe on our freedoms," said Tamya Cox-Touré, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma.
What remains to be seen is whether Gov. Kevin Stitt will sign or veto the legislation.
During his State of the State address in February, Stitt called for a ban on gender-affirming care in the state. But, this week, a fight over education funding has resulted in Stitt vetoing dozens of Senate-authored bills.
He said he will veto any measures authored by Senators against his education funding plan. That includes Bartlesville Sen. Julie Daniels, who authored SB613.
A bill banning gender-affirming care for minors and criminalizes care is nearing the finish line.
Senate Bill 613 mirrors the state’s abortion bans, in that it makes performing the service — in this case, gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth — a felony, threatening medical providers with up to a decade in prison and $100,000 in fines.
It also mirrors the abortion ban that allows private citizens to file lawsuits for damages against doctors in civil court. Additionally, it adds providing gender-affirming services to children as a cause for medical and nursing license revocations.
The bill bans surgeries, which medical providers generally recommend only for adults, as well as less intense and non-permanent treatments such as puberty blockers.
"Not only does SB613 take away the rights of parents and families to seek life-saving care for their children, it threatens the livelihood of any physician who offers gender-affirming care in Oklahoma," said Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater.
Democratic lawmakers pointed to state national medical organizations that oppose bans on gender-affirming care, such as The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Oklahoma Psychiatric Physicians Association.
In Montana this week, a transgender lawmaker was formally punished from attending or speaking during floor sessions after telling supporters of a bill to ban gender-affirming care that they would have blood on their hands. She says she was alluding to studies that show that transgender health care can reduce suicidality in youth.
Democratic Rep. Mauree Turner of Oklahoma City — the legislature's only open nonbinary member — echoed similar worries after the passage of SB613.
"This bill puts lives on the line, and will be directly responsible for the lives lost here — whether that is because Oklahoma families and individuals move away or because they die," said Turner.
SB613 passed off the House floor Wednesday night along party lines, 73 to 18. It will now head back to the Senate for another vote before it can go to the governor’s desk.
There is also a House bill that bans the care for minors, as well as all public funding and insurance coverage for gender-affirming care for Oklahomans of any age. But, it didn’t get a hearing in the Senate.
Help is available
There are resources available for 2SLGBTQ+ people seeking mental health support.
- Trans Lifeline is a suicide hotline for trans people, run by transgender volunteers. Their hotline number is 877-565-8860.
- The LGBT National Hotline provides free & confidential peer-support, information, and local resources at 888-843-4564.
- If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, you can contact The Trevor Project's Trevor Lifeline 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat every day or by texting "START" to 678-678.