Health Care, Culture & the Family
Senate passes ban on sex-change surgeries for youth
February 15, 2023
Members of the Oklahoma Senate voted overwhelmingly to make it illegal to perform sex-reassignment surgeries on children or provide cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers to underage patients.
At least one supporter of the bill cast his vote despite receiving death threats.
Senate Bill 613, by state Sen. Julie Daniels, states, “A health care provider shall not provide gender transition procedures to any child.” The bill defines a child to include anyone younger than 18.
Daniels empathized with parents whose child is experiencing gender dysphoria, but said decisions on transgender procedures, which have lifelong negative consequences for many patients, should be delayed until a patient is capable of understanding the long-term impact.
“My heart goes out to the families, the parents and the children, suffering through these very troubling, discouraging and confusing times,” said Daniels, R-Bartlesville. “Childhood and puberty are difficult enough. But to add this to that very difficult time is almost beyond imagination for me.”
Medical officials who violate SB 613 would face up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. They could also be stripped of their medical licenses and be sued in civil court by former patients or the family/guardians of a minor patient.
Under SB 613, medical officials could still provide behavioral health care services or mental health counseling to children experiencing gender confusion, and they could prescribe medications to treat depression and anxiety to those young patients.
Democratic lawmakers denounced the bill.
“This is an attack on parents’ rights,” said state Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. “This is taking away from a parent their right to make medical decisions about their child.”
“This language is not clear,” said state Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City. “It does not protect kids because it doesn’t protect doctors and health-care providers to be able to advise and consult with their patients.”
State Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, said transgender youth “are being attacked by this body in our words and in our deeds,” and that the bill’s supporters “seek to deny” the existence of transgender individuals.
She declared that the sex-reassignment surgeries, cross-sex hormones, and puberty blockers that would be banned for youth under the bill are “safe medical treatments.”
Hicks said nearly 98 percent of youth who obtain transgender treatments continue to identify as transgender as adults, and predicted many would become suicidal if they are not allowed to have the surgeries and hormone treatment before age 18.
However, Hicks’ claim is countered by public reports.
In 2017, James M. Cantor, the director of the Toronto Sexuality Centre and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, wrote that he had reviewed “every study that ever followed up transgender kids to see how they felt in adulthood,” saying there were 12 such studies at that time.
Cantor said the 12 studies “all came to the very same conclusion: The majority of kids cease to feel transgender when they get older.”
Supporters of SB 613 warned that allowing children to receive transgender surgeries and cross-sex hormones often leads to suicide attempts for those patients as adults
State Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, noted that Johns Hopkins University pioneered gender-reassignment surgery in the United States decades ago. The patients were two infants severely injured during circumcision, who were “transitioned” from males to females. One of the boys later attempted to transition back and committed suicide in his 20s while the other “drank himself to death because he knew something was wrong.”
“That is the research that we’re talking about that Johns Hopkins University used to open up these kinds of transition surgeries,” Bullard said.
After Johns Hopkins University had provided sex-reassignment surgeries for years, the hospital researched the long-term outcomes of patients.
“Here’s what they found: Seven to 10 years after the surgeries, they were 20 times more likely to commit suicide,” Bullard said. “Not 20 percent. Hear me. Twenty times. That is an astounding number that we cannot deny.”
Bullard, who said he has received numerous death threats for supporting SB 613, said additional studies examining long term outcomes have found similar suicide rates.
“We are killing these people,” Bullard said.
State Sen. Shane Jett, R-Shawnee, said many children are being misled into believing falsehoods about their identity.
“Kids are being told lies,” Jett said. “Kids are being told lies in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where I’m proud to represent. I had a parent that brought in her little girl and said she’d come home and been told by a school counselor that gender was fluid and that she could wake up a girl and go to bed a boy.”
He said medical officials who endorse sex-reassignment have an obvious motive other than the best interest of a patient.
Jett noted an official with a Vanderbilt University transgender youth clinic was caught on video referring to the procedures as a “big money maker” for hospitals because patients must return for repeated treatments for years.
“The important thing to remember is all of these medical doctors that have been lifted up as experts, they get paid, on some surgeries, at $100,000,” Jett said. “They have 100,000 reasons to tell you, ‘We can give you that surgery.’”
SB 613 passed the Oklahoma Senate on a 40-8 vote that broke along party lines with Republicans in support. The bill now proceeds to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.