Gov. Kevin Stitt followed through on his vow to approve legislation prohibiting minors from receiving gender-affirming care, like as surgery and hormone therapy.
The measure is the most recent in a countrywide surge of state legislation and political rhetoric that has sparked protests and increased worry within the LGBTQ community about what is to come. Several organizations have promised to file a legal challenge.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to what is 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 press release after signing the measure Monday.
Along with an immediate ban on surgery, Senate Bill 613 prohibits puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, or other drugs to suppress or delay normal puberty after a six-month grace period meant to assist minors with “gradually decreasing and discontinuing use of the drugs or hormones.”
The law specifies that “gender transition procedures” do not include behavioral or mental health therapy, medicines for depression or anxiety, medication for premature puberty, or therapies for those born with ambiguous genitalia. It also excludes therapy for difficulties associated with gender transition treatments, as well as any treatment in which the individual is in imminent risk of death or impairment of a significant physical function.
Stitt originally proposed a statewide ban last year, when lawmakers prevented OU Children’s Hospital from offering some gender treatment to LGBTQ adolescents. A few months later, in his state of the state speech, he reiterated that request, setting the tone for what he anticipated lawmakers to do this year. The legislation was amended numerous times, and the final form does not include some of the more contentious sections that were suggested.
For example, some parliamentarians voted to prohibit insurance coverage for people in transition, but that provision was omitted from the measure approved by the governor. Another trans health care ban for young adults was proposed this year, but it did not get it into any legislation that is currently in the works.
As Senate Bill 613 moved across the House floor, the author removed language that would have immediately revoked the license of health care providers who perform gender transition procedures on minors. However, those providers are still subject to the criminal component of the legislation, which makes it a felony to carry out such actions on behalf of anyone under the age of 18.