OKLAHOMA CITY - Families, transgender adolescents, and their medical providers are challenging a new law criminalizing age-appropriate medical care for transgender adolescents signed by Governor Kevin Stitt this week.
In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma, Lambda Legal, and the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, a group of families with transgender adolescents and medical providers who support trans youth assert SB 613 unjustly and unfairly targets them and gender-affirming health care in violation of their rights under Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
SB 613 bans all forms of gender-affirming medical treatment for transgender youth and threatens providers who violate the law with a felony conviction and discipline from their professional licensing boards.
“Every Oklahoman should have the freedom to access the care they need to survive and thrive, but once again, instead of deciding to boldly lead our state, Governor Stitt and members of the legislator have decided to risk the lives of one of our most vulnerable populations, to score political points with their base,” said Megan Lambert, ACLU of Oklahoma Legal Director. “Oklahoma consistently ushers in the bottom of almost every list nationwide, from education and incarceration to healthcare and privacy, but lawmakers choose to spend their time pushing dangerous rhetoric on topics they know nothing about and attacking transgender children, instead of addressing the real issues Oklahomans face day to day. We all deserve the freedom to control our bodies and seek the healthcare we need, including gender-affirming care. The ACLU of Oklahoma and our partners have warned lawmakers that we will take swift action on any ban on gender-affirming care signed into law, and today is the day we make good on that promise.”
“This law is a dangerous attack on the rights of families and their transgender youth who call Oklahoma home,” said Harper Seldin, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “Governor Stitt and the politicians targeting trans youth have ignored the voices of parents, medical providers, and transgender youth themselves, instead choosing to put their politics between doctors and their patients. We’re confident the state will find itself completely incapable of defending this law in court and welcome the opportunity to fight for the safety, dignity, and equality of trans Oklahomans.”
“Based on nothing but animus towards transgender people and a campaign of misinformation and disinformation, Oklahoma officials have decided to prohibit the provision of necessary, safe, and effective evidence-based medical care for trans adolescents in Oklahoma. These actions risk the health, well-being, and very lives of trans youth in the Sooner State,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Counsel and Health Care Strategist at Lambda Legal. “We will not stand idly by as discriminatory laws endanger our community. Trans youth in Oklahoma and elsewhere deserve no less. We are proud to represent, alongside our co-counsel, these five courageous families and a caring doctor, who together are standing up for their rights.”
“SB 613 is an unconstitutional law that singles out transgender adolescents and discriminates against them and their families by banning necessary medical care and treatment,” said Laurie Edelstein, a partner at Jenner & Block. “We are asking the court to block enforcement of SB 613 and protect the fundamental rights of transgender adolescents and their families to access appropriate medical treatment so that transgender adolescents have the same opportunity as their peers to thrive in their families, with their friends, in school, and in their communities.”
In September 2022, Oklahoma state legislators threatened to withhold COVID relief funding from Oklahoma University hospitals if they did not end their program supporting transgender youth. In March 2023, the Oklahoma legislature censured Rep. Mauree Turner, the state’s only openly nonbinary lawmaker.
Such restrictions are opposed by leading medical experts and organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the Williams Institute of UCLA, there are an estimated 2,600 transgender youth ages 13-17 in Oklahoma.