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Oklahoma governor signs bill barring OU Health from providing gender-affirming care to trans youth, calls for statewide ban

Story at a glance

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Tuesday signed a bill that blocks University of Oklahoma hospitals from receiving federal American Rescue Plan Act funds if its children’s hospital continues to offer gender-affirming care.

  • Oklahoma Children’s hospital in a statement said it was no longer prescribing hormone therapies or performing gender-affirming surgical procedures on patients younger than 18.

  • Stitt in a statement on Tuesday called on the state legislature to pass a bill that bans doctors in the state from providing gender-affirming care to minors when it reconvenes in February.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Tuesday signed into law a measure blocking one of the state’s largest hospital systems from receiving federal funds if it continues to offer gender-affirming care to transgender youth.

The bill signed Tuesday was passed last week by state lawmakers during a special session to appropriate the state’s $1.87 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Under the proposal by two Republican state House members and two Republican senators, University of Oklahoma (OU) hospitals will only be permitted to receive $108 million in ARPA funds — including nearly $40 million earmarked for a pediatric mental health facility — if Oklahoma Children’s Hospital ceases to provide gender-affirming care.

On Tuesday, Stitt said signing the bill was only the first step toward shielding children from “permanent gender transition surgeries and therapies.”

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“It is wildly inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be used for condoning, promoting, or performing these types of controversial procedures on healthy children,” Stitt said in a statement, and called on the legislature to enact a total ban on gender-affirming care for minors when it reconvenes in February. Some state legislators had urged Stitt to call another special session for the purpose of passing legislation to outlaw such care for youth.

“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,” Stitt said Tuesday.

Major medical associations have said gender-affirming health care for transgender youth and adults is medically necessary and can be life-saving. On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Children’s Hospital Association in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland condemned recent attacks against children’s hospitals and called for a Department of Justice investigation into individuals and organizations spreading misinformation about gender-affirming care.

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital at OU Health in a statement following Stitt’s approval of the bill said it had ceased hormone-related prescription therapies and gender-affirming surgical procedures on patients younger than 18 in accordance with the new law. The hospital offers gender-affirming medical care for individuals up to 24 years old.

Lawmakers in dozens of states this year, including Oklahoma, have pursued legislation to restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. In August, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) introduced federal legislation that would make it a felony to provide gender-affirming medical care to a minor. More than 40 House Republicans have signed onto the bill.

Stitt in March signed into law another bill that bars transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams, and a measure that has prevented transgender students in Oklahoma from using school facilities like restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity has been in place since May.

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