(The Center Square) – Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill to ban gender reassignment treatments for children, including hormone replacement therapy, at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital.
Senate Bill 3 is part of a package allocating American Rescue Plan Act funds to health care organizations.
Senate Speaker Pro Tem Greg Treat said during debate last week that lawmakers learned in June that the hospital, part of Oklahoma University Health, was offering gender reassignment treatment for children through its Roy G. Biv Program. That’s when they added wording to the bill that would rescind $39.4 million in funding unless the hospital agreed not to offer the treatments.
The bill passed the Senate and House after lengthy discussions.
“By signing this bill today we are taking the first step to protect children from permanent gender transition surgeries and therapies,” Stitt said in a statement. “It is wildly inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be used for condoning, promoting, or performing these types of controversial procedures on healthy children.”
The action was immediately criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
“Today, Oklahoma politicians took the next step in joining their colleagues in Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas, by attacking lifesaving, best-practice medical care for Oklahoma’s transgender youth,” ACLU of Oklahoma executive director Tamya Cox-Toure said in a statement on the organization’s website. “Medical decisions belong to patients, their parents, and their doctors. Yet politicians, attempting to appeal to their base during an election year, have continued their attacks on bodily autonomy by coming between those directly impacted and the care they need and deserve.”
Stitt said the bill does not go far enough.
“I am calling for the Legislature to ban all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors when they convene next session in February 2023,” Stitt said. “We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening all across our nation, and as governor I will not allow life-altering transition surgeries on minor children in the state of Oklahoma.”
The bill also included $5.2 million to improve dental health through mobile dental units, $20 million for cancer treatment and $44 million for an electronic record system.