Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has signed a bill that makes it a felony for health care workers to provide gender–affirming medical care for minors, making it the latest state to restrict such treatments.
The bill, which was passed in the Oklahoma Legislature last week, prohibits medical professionals from providing surgery, hormones, drugs, or any other treatment that would help minors transition their gender.
“Last year, I called for a statewide ban on all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors so I am thrilled to sign this into law today and protect our kids,” Stitt said in a statement released after the signing.
The bill has been met with strong opposition from advocates of transgender rights, who argue that such medical care is essential for the well–being of transgender children.
“Gender–affirming care is a critical part of helping transgender adolescents succeed, establish healthy relationships with their friends and family, live authentically as themselves, and dream about their futures,” Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU said in a joint statement.
The bill’s passage makes Oklahoma the 16th state to enact laws restricting or banning gender–affirming care for minors. Several of these states are facing legal challenges from the ACLU and other civil liberty organizations who argue that these bills are unconstitutional.
The bill is the latest in a series of anti–transgender bills passed by the state of Oklahoma. Last year, Stitt signed bills that prohibited transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams and prevented transgender children from using school bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
The move by Stitt and Oklahoma legislators has sparked outrage among transgender advocates and parents of transgender children who argue that such care is essential and should not be restricted.
“This ban is an attack on the health and well–being of transgender children,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “It puts their lives at risk and sends a message that they are not valued. We will not stand for it.”
The passage of the bill has raised questions about the future of transgender rights in the United States. As more and more states pursue similar bans, it remains to be seen how the issue will play out in the courts and in the court of public opinion.