Oklahoma governor signs bill banning gender-affirming care for trans youth
On Monday evening, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth.
Senate Bill 613 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.
It also 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.
Stitt called for a ban on gender-affirming care in the state during his State of the State address in February.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening across our nation, and as governor I am proud to stand up for what’s right and ban life-altering transition surgeries on children in the state of Oklahoma," Stitt said in a statement.
Opponents of Oklahoma's legislation warn that lawmakers are "inflicting cruel and intentional harm" on transgender youth. They also note that such bans are opposed by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The law goes into effect immediately, with a six-month exception period for those currently receiving care to continue that care.
On Tuesday, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit in federal court over the new law.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group of families with transgender minors, as well as a medical provider. It asserts the new law discriminates on the basis of sex and transgender status, and violates the plaintiffs' rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
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.