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Oklahoma governor signs bill banning gender-affirming care for trans youth

Gov. Kevin Stitt gave his fifth State of the State speech at the Capitol on Feb. 6, 2023.
Whitney Bryen
Oklahoma Watch
Gov. Kevin Stitt gave his fifth State of the State speech at the Capitol on Feb. 6, 2023.

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.

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

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.

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Oklahoma stated last week they will take any necessary legal action against a ban on gender-affirming care in the state.

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.

  • 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.

Copyright 2023 KOSU. To see more, visit KOSU.

Ryan LaCroix joined KOSU’s staff in 2013. He hosts All Things Considered, Oklahoma Rock Show, Oklahoma Rock Show: Rewind, and Oklahoma Music Minute.