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Republican Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a law Monday banning sex change procedures on kids, joining a growing list of red states that have moved to protect children from the life-altering treatments.
The law bans surgeries, like elective double mastectomies on girls who identify as boys, and prohibits puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children.
“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. “We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening across our nation, and as governor I am proud to stand up for what’s right and ban life-altering transition surgeries on children in the state of Oklahoma.”
Stitt had previously asked for Oklahoma lawmakers to pass such a law and moved to withhold funding from Oklahoma Children’s Hospital at OU Health after it was publicized that the hospital was providing cross-sex hormones to children who identified as transgender.
The Republican governor has also signed legislation requiring students to use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex and compete on the sports team of their biological sex as well.
Before the bill was signed, the ACLU of Oklahoma promised to take legal action against the law, as other ACLU-affiliated groups have done in other states.
“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. If this bill is signed into law, we will defend the rights of transgender youth in court, just as we have done in other states engaging in this anti-science and discriminatory fearmongering,” Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Oklahoma said in a statement.
Oklahoma became the 16th Republican-led state to enact such measures, even as Democrat states move to become “refuges” for transgender procedures. In some states with bans, like Arkansas and Alabama, judges have blocked the implementation of the law while the Department of Justice has sued Tennessee, arguing that its law violates the 14th Amendment.
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said that the state would “vigorously” fight to keep the law in place. “The federal government has joined the ACLU and an elite New York law firm in attacking a bipartisan law that protects children from irreversible harm. I welcome the opportunity to litigate these issues and vigorously defend Tennessee’s laws,” Skrmetti said in a statement.