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Bill banning gender-affirming care for minors passes Oklahoma House

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 recent weeks and months, states like North Dakota, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee have signed similar bans into law.

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.
Catherine Sweeney grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and attended Oklahoma State University. She has covered local, state and federal government for outlets in Oklahoma, Colorado and Washington, D.C.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.