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Health Care , Culture & the Family

Ray Carter | February 16, 2023

Oklahoma House committee approves ban on youth sex-change surgeries

Ray Carter

Voting only hours after a similar ban had passed the Oklahoma Senate, members of a state House committee approved legislation that would make it illegal to perform sex-reassignment surgeries on youth or provide cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers to children.

“What this bill does, it prohibits gender reassignment,” said state Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore. “It actually promotes gender affirmation, because you are born male or you are born a female. This bill protects minors. It also protects state funds.”

House Bill 2177, by West and state Rep. Jim Olsen, states that a medical official may not “knowingly engage” in practices “performed upon any person under eighteen (18) years of age if the practice is performed for the purpose of attempting to alter the appearance of or affirm the minor’s perception of his or her gender or biological sex, if that appearance or perception is inconsistent with the minor's biological sex …”

The bill prohibits cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers for youth, and several specific types of sex-reassignment surgeries, such as “sterilization surgeries, including castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, orchiectomy, and penectomy.”

The legislation also prohibits the use of taxpayer funds, either “directly or indirectly,” to pay for sex-reassignment surgeries and cross-sex hormone treatments. HB 2177 also makes it illegal for insurance coverage to pay for those measures.

Doctors who violate the law would face loss of their medical license for a year.

Olsen said that banning children from undergoing such surgeries or hormone treatments makes sense since the procedures involve “a life-altering decision that potentially has negative, long-term results to it.”

He also noted the ban is in keeping with typical medical practice around the globe.

“In cases of gender dysphoria around the world, in general the favored approaches are what’s called watchful waiting, and I think that term explains itself, or psychotherapy,” said Olsen, R-Roland. “And those two approaches do not have the potential dangers, nearly so, compared to gender-reassignment procedures.”

State Rep. Randy Randleman, a Eufaula Republican who is a licensed psychologist, said many youth who identify as transgender often have underlying issues that need to be addressed.

“I’ve done therapy with a number of individuals, transgender, non-transgender, etc., and it’s very evident out there that 75 percent of your personality is developed by age nine, so the traumatic events that happen to you trigger your brain in ways of thinking differently,” Randleman said. “Also, there’s another big issue that’s involved with these type of situations—relationship with the father. If there is a poor relationship with the father, you’ll see children start thinking in different patterns.”

State Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater, opposed the bill, declaring it government overreach.

“Parents have the right to seek effective medical care for their children,” Ranson said. “They are their children. Government should not be in that decision-making process. That is big government.”

She said the surgeries and cross-sex hormones targeted by the bill represent “necessary health care for our LGBTQ+ population.”

However, while LGBTQ+ is a shorthand abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and other various identities, only one group of the first four in that list—transgender individuals—generally seek sex reassignment.

HB 2177 passed the House Public Health Committee on a 5-1 vote with Ranson the lone opponent.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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