Law & Principles
Ray Carter | October 4, 2022
Stitt signs law preventing youth transgender surgeries
Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed legislation that blocks certain funding to Oklahoma Children’s Hospital at OU Health if the facility provides puberty blockers or performs transgender surgeries on youth.
“By signing this bill today, we are taking the first step to protect children from permanent gender transition surgeries and therapies,” Stitt said. “It is wildly inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be used for condoning, promoting, or performing these types of controversial procedures on healthy children.”
Senate Bill 3XX provides a $108 million appropriation in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the University Hospitals Authority, including $39.4 million earmarked “to expand the capacity of behavioral health care for the children of this state.”
The bill also includes language that restricts the funding of life-altering transgender treatments for youth.
The legislation states that “no monies” may be spent by the University Hospitals Authority “for the benefit of any facility owned by the University Hospitals Authority or University Hospitals Trust performing ‘gender reassignment medical treatment’” on any patient younger than 18.
The legislation targets “interventions to suppress the development of endogenous secondary sex characteristics,” “interventions to align the patient’s appearance or physical body with the patient’s gender identity,” and “medical therapies and medical intervention used to treat gender dysphoria.”
The legislation was advanced following controversy over the University of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, which operates the Roy G. Biv Program. The website for the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital states that officials with the Roy G. Biv Program will serve youth “moving toward gender affirmation,” including “Female-to-male transgender” and “Male-to-female transgender.”
The OU website promises the children’s hospital will provide “gender-affirming scope of treatment” that includes “pausing puberty to further explore gender,” “managing gender-affirming hormone therapy,” and “helping find surgeons who perform gender-affirming surgeries.”
Supporters noted the targeted transgender procedures have lifelong negative impact, and that many patients express regret after going through the procedures.
“I am calling for the Legislature to ban all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors when they convene next session in February 2023.” —Gov. Kevin Stitt
During floor debate, state Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, said that officials at the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital reported facilitating at least five “top” surgeries within the past year, and that two of the five patients had already expressed regret about their decision.
West also noted that research conducted in Sweden, where gender-reassignment surgeries and treatments have been allowed for decades, showed that “people—especially youth—who received these types of procedures are 19 times more likely to commit suicide than those who do not.”
A 2011 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reviewed 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males) in Sweden from 1973-2003 and found that persons “with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.”
State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, referenced medical literature showing that males who take estrogen have a roughly three-times greater risk of heart attack, along with increased risk of stroke, gallstones, and breast cancer. Females who take testosterone have increased risk of cardiovascular death, severe liver dysfunction, hypertension, breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Freedom Oklahoma, which advocates for transgender causes, criticized the new law, declaring on Twitter that SB 3XX requires OU Health to discontinue hormone blockers and transgender surgeries on children “in exchange for ARPA funds.”
“If @OUHealth accepts these conditions, they do so at the expense of some of their most vulnerable patients,” Freedom Oklahoma stated.
“Every person who advanced this policy did so actively refusing to hear from providers, parents of patients, and patients themselves, knowing that there would be measurable harm caused to Oklahomans,” Freedom Oklahoma stated.
However, during House floor debate on SB 3XX, state Rep. Kyle Hilbert, a Bristow Republican who supported the bill’s passage, said he had visited with the family member of one of the patients referenced by Freedom Oklahoma.
“I personally have talked to a parent whose daughter went through this process and regretted it and is trying to transition back and will never be the same,” Hilbert said.
SB 3XX applies only to the University of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. Some Republicans lawmakers opposed SB 3XX, saying the Legislature should first enact a statewide ban on providing puberty blockers, opposite-sex hormone therapy, or transgender surgeries for those younger than 18.
Stitt indicated those critics have raised a valid concern and urged legislators to enact a statewide ban during the regular 2023 session.
“I am calling for the Legislature to ban all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors when they convene next session in February 2023,” Stitt said. “We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening all across our nation, and as governor I will not allow life-altering transition surgeries on minor children in the state of Oklahoma.”
SB 3XX went into effect immediately.
[For more stories about higher education in Oklahoma, visit AimHigherOK.com.]
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.