OKLAHOMA CITY — Today, the Oklahoma House Public Health Committee advanced SB 613, a copy-cat bill pushed around the country by national interest groups to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Last October, we witnessed the first successful attack on evidence-based care for Oklahoma's trans community as the legislature used a special session to withhold COVID relief funds from OU Health Facilities, forcing the state's largest hospital network to shutter the doors of its gender clinic.
Politicians wasted no time this session increasing their attacks by proposing at least 15 bans to gender-affirming care for transgender youth and adults. SB 613 will result in criminal penalties for medical professionals caring for their patients and only contribute to the wave of medical providers leaving our state. Oklahoma is ranked 48th in the nation on doctors per capita with almost 59 percent of Oklahomans living in areas without a primary care physician.
“Every Oklahoman should have the freedom to access the care they need to survive and thrive,” said Tamya Cox-Touré, Executive Director for the ACLU of Oklahoma. “Our government should not interfere with the care we receive, the curriculum our schools teach, or what information we can safely share with a trusted doctor or teacher. But today, extreme politicians push laws that infringe on our freedoms and our privacy. We all deserve the freedom to control our bodies and seek the healthcare we need. The government has no right to tell someone they cannot seek gender-affirming care, just as they have no right telling someone when or if they can start a family.”
Barring transgender Oklahomans, particularly those under 18, from accessing essential and often life-saving forms of gender-affirming care ignores the warnings of transgender youth, their families, and their medical providers. Psychologists, psychiatrists, family physicians, and specialists work together with individuals and their families to determine the best treatment.
Medical and mental health treatment for transgender individuals is guided by evidence-based clinical guidelines and supported by every major medical association. Blanket bans on treatment disrupt medically necessary care and result in negative health outcomes including anxiety, depression, and suicidality.
The ACLU of Oklahoma will never stop fighting for all Oklahomans to have the freedom to be ourselves and live our lives.