Metro Weekly

Oklahoma Bill Would Ban Gender-Affirming Care Under Age of 21

Oklahoma State Rep. Jim Olsen seeks to make it a felony for doctors to provide patients under 21 with gender-affirming medical treatment.

Oklahoma State Rep. Jim Olsen

A new Oklahoma bill would ban gender-affirming care for everyone under 21.

Filed by Republican State Rep. Jim Olsen, House Bill 1011 would make it a felony for doctors to provide patients under the age of 21 with gender-affirming medical treatment — including puberty blockers, hormones and gender-affirming surgeries.

The bill also proposes criminalizing medical professionals who refer patients to others who would be able to provide the patients with gender-affirming care.

In a press release, Olsen said, “It’s irresponsible for anybody in health care to provide or recommend life-altering surgeries that may later be regretted.” He argued that “some people” detransition after coming out as trans.

While some who transition do return to their gender assigned at birth, this is far from the most common outcome.

One recent study in the medical journal Pediatrics followed 317 trans children and found that, after five years, only 2.5% identified as cisgender. Moreover, a study published in LGBT Health found external factors like familial pressure and social stigma influenced 82.5% of those who detransition.

Erin Reed, a trans activist and legislative researcher, called the Oklahoma bill “one of the worst anti-transgender bills I have seen in any state legislature yet” in a Substack post.

“We need to stand strong against these attacks on the transgender community from political actors that threatens our lives and futures,” Reed wrote.

The Oklahoma bill includes very limited exceptions in its ban on gender-transition-related care. It does, however, explicitly permit medical procedures to be performed on at least some intersex people.

As Human Rights Watch wrote, doctors often operate on intersex people to make them conform with a particular sex assignment before they are old enough to consent to the surgery.

“The results are often catastrophic, the supposed benefits are largely unproven, and there are generally no urgent health considerations at stake,” an HRW report about these medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children said.

Oklahoma has already banned trans student-athletes from competing on teams aligning with their gender identities, barred trans students from using bathrooms aligning with their gender identities, and prohibited the use of nonbinary gender markers on birth certificates.

Beyond Oklahoma, other states have made recent attempts of their own to curtail healthcare for trans people. In June, the Texas GOP called to prevent everyone under 21 from receiving gender-affirming medical treatment. In August, under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, Florida banned Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming medical care.

The upcoming Oklahoma legislative session begins February 6, 2023.

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