Election 2024

Oklahoma bans gender-affirming care for minors at state-funded hospital

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt Photo: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

On Tuesday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed into law a bill that bans the Children’s Hospital at Oklahoma University Hospital from using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for gender-affirming care for minors.

H.B. 1007 authorizes distribution of $108 million for the hospital, with $39.4 million earmarked for a pediatric mental health center at OU Children’s Hospital. A stipulation prohibits the hospital and proposed center from providing any gender-affirming surgeries and medical therapies for individuals under the age of 18.

Stitt, a first-term governor, is up for reelection in November.

Language in the bill describes gender reassignment as “any health care to facilitate the transitioning of a patient’s assigned gender identity on the patient’s birth certificate, to the gender identity experienced and defined by the patient,” including medical therapies or intervention to treat gender dysphoria, suppress the development of secondary sex characteristics or “align the patient’s appearance with the patient’s gender identity.”

Prior to the bill’s signing, OU’s Children’s Hospital provided surgical procedures, hormone therapy, puberty blockers for patients up to age 24. They also provided assistance with legal name changes in collaboration with families and schools. The bill ends that care effective immediately.

“In light of the legislation signed by Governor Stitt, we have ceased hormone-related prescription therapies and surgical procedures for gender-affirming services on patients under the age of 18,” a statement from the hospital read. “OU Health provides care in accordance with all state and federal laws and in compliance with regulatory governing bodies.”

They added: “We are proud of the integrity, professionalism, care and passion our physicians and staff provide to all of our patients. Compassionate care and patient safety always have been and will remain our top priority.”

The number of minors treated for gender dysphoria at OU Children’s Hospital was unclear. Jeremey Torres with the hospital’s pediatric unit told LGBTQ Nation, “That information is not currently available,” and said a follow-up from the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Cameron Mantor would be forthcoming. This article will be updated when that follow-up is received.

In March, Stitt signed a law banning transgender students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. In May, he signed a bill banning transgender girls from participating in school sports, in a photo-op surrounded by an all-white collection of cisgender girls. Two young girls holding signs declaring “Save Women’s Sports” looked on glumly.

With the bill’s signing, Stitt issued a statement calling on Oklahoma’s legislature to ban gender-affirming care for minors statewide when it returns in February. In a Twitter post, the governor declared, “This is just the first step.”

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