Law & Principles, Culture & the Family

OCPA continues defense of ban on child sex-change measures

December 19, 2023

Ray Carter

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) continues to defend a state law that makes it illegal to provide children with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or sex-change surgeries as a treatment for gender dysphoria.

In its latest effort, OCPA has filed a brief to ensure the law remains in effect and continues to protect vulnerable children in Oklahoma.

Under Senate Bill 613, “A health care provider shall not knowingly provide gender transition procedures to any child.”

The law defines “gender transition procedures” to include surgical procedures that alter or remove physical or anatomical characteristics or features that are typical for the individual’s biological sex, or the provision of puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones. The restrictions applied to patients younger than 18.

The American Civil Liberties Union and likeminded groups sued, seeking to have the law overturned, and asked for an injunction to prevent the law’s enforcement.

The request for an injunction was rejected by U.S. District Judge John F. Heil III, who declared that the plaintiffs “failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits of each of their constitutional claims.”

“Where, as here, there is robust scientific and political debate concerning a significant public-policy question, a court should be loath to step in to end the debate and thereby suggest it is all-knowing,” Heil wrote in his opinion and order. “The record in this case amply demonstrates that there is no consensus in the medical field about the extent of the risks or the benefits of the Treatment Protocols.”

The plaintiffs in Peter Poe v. Gentner Drummond included five youth who claim to be transgender, their parents/guardians, and one doctor previously paid for efforts to try to make youth of one sex appear as members of the opposite sex.

OCPA joined with Do No Harm, a group of medical professionals, to defend SB 613 in an amici curiae brief filed in the case. The two groups jointly filed their latest brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in support of affirmance of Heil’s denial of the preliminary injunction.

“No reliable scientific evidence justifies the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries to treat gender dysphoria in minors,” OCPA and Do No Harm’s latest brief states. “To the contrary, such treatments carry harmful lifelong consequences, including infertility, total loss of adult sexual function, and increased risk of several other serious medical conditions. Despite activists’ efforts to stifle dissent, even otherwise sympathetic audiences have begun to raise the alarm over the use of these treatments.”

While some self-described medical interest groups have opposed Oklahoma’s law, the OCPA/Do No Harm brief notes that “even cursory glance at the positions these groups have taken elsewhere reveals that they peddle nothing more than political ideology dressed up as ‘Science.’”

While the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry argues that children can provide informed consent for experimental gender medicine that has lifelong impact, the organization has taken the opposite stance when it comes to lifetime prison sentences for minors, saying that adolescents “overvalue short-term benefits and rewards, and are less capable of controlling their impulses, making them susceptible to acting in a reflexive rather than a planned voluntary manner.”

The American Medical Association has also taken those same, mutually contradictory positions on the issues of child gender-transition procedures and lifetime prison sentences for minors.

Many of the medical groups opposing Oklahoma’s law restricting sex-change surgeries for children have also taken public stances in favor of Critical Race Theory, gun control, affirmative action, granting legal status to illegal immigrants, and declaring climate change a crisis.

The OCPA/Do No Harm brief notes that “given the track record of the Medical Interest Group Amici here,” it is “hard to take seriously the proposition that these amici come forward to offer their humble opinion regarding the ‘science’ and then return to their clinics. Rather, their modus operandi appears to be reaching a policy decision first and then backfilling the science to achieve their preferred policy outcome.

“Therefore, the Court should not hesitate to say what the law is irrespective of what politically motivated medical interest groups insist—no matter how many of them line up to add their name to yet another recycled brief,” the OCPA brief continues. “Under the correct application of the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, Oklahoma’s prohibition on the harmful and irreversible practice of experimental gender medicine on minors is indisputably constitutional.”

Child harm from ‘gender transition” is significant, while benefits are few

The OCPA/Do No Harm brief notes that there is much medical evidence showing that children face significant, lifelong harm from so-called “gender transition” measures such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and sex-change surgeries, while there is little to no evidence of benefit.

The brief notes that use of puberty blockers has been linked to “life-altering side-effects, including decreased bone density, cognitive impairment, polycystic ovarian syndrome, metabolic syndrome, and greater risk of infertility.”

For males, the use of cross-sex hormones is associated “with numerous health risks, such as thromboembolic disease, including blood clots; cholelithiasis, including gallstones; coronary artery disease, including heart attacks; macroprolactinoma, which is a tumor of the pituitary gland; cerebrovascular disease, including strokes; hypertriglyceridemia, which is an elevated level of triglycerides in the blood; breast cancer; and irreversible infertility.”

For females, the use of cross-sex hormones “is associated with risks of erythrocytosis, which is an increase in red blood cells; severe liver dysfunction; coronary artery disease, including heart attacks; depression; hypertension; infertility; and increased risk of breast, cervical, and uterine cancers.”

The known risks of sex-change surgeries include “fistulas, chronic infection, atrophy, need for colostomy, and complete loss of sexual sensation.”

In addition, OCPA and Do No Harm note that many children who experience gender dysphoria have other mental-health issues that are not addressed by researchers or even treated by doctors who endorse child sex-change efforts.

The brief notes that “many of the children and adolescents seeking experimental gender medicine today concurrently suffer from depression, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

Finnish experts found comorbid mental health diagnoses preceded gender dysphoria in 75 percent of reviewed cases.

OCPA and Do No Harm note that “there is no reliable evidence showing that these treatments result in long-term improvement of minors with gender dysphoria. Currently, there are simply no studies long enough to provide such a finding.”

While some studies have claimed to identify short-term benefits, the brief notes that those effects “are so minimal as to be immaterial, and the studies do not control for the confounding effects of psychotherapy or the placebo effect.”

When a recent study controlled for mental-health comorbidities, “the differences in suicidality rates between gender-dysphoric and non-dysphoric children were either miniscule or non-existent.”