The bill requires Oklahoma Children’s Hospital to stop offering gender services to minors in order to keep millions of dollars in federal COVID relief money.
“By signing this bill today we are taking the first step to protect children from permanent gender transition surgeries and therapies,” the governor said in a news release. “It is wildly inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be used for condoning, promoting, or performing these types of controversial procedures on healthy children.”
The governor also said the bill does not go far enough and called on the legislature to ban medical gender transition for children across the state.
“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.”
Senate Bill 3XX goes into effect immediately.
According to the new law, the money cannot go toward “gender reassignment medical treatment” for minors, including interventions to suppress the development of secondary sex characteristics or to “align the patient’s appearance or physical body with the patient’s gender identity.”
Oklahoma Children’s Hospital announced last week that it is planning to halt “certain gender medicine services” in order to keep funding for its new pediatric mental health facility.
The hospital was poised to lose $39.4 million in American Rescue Plan funds.
“The Legislature restricted the use of the funds from benefitting facilities performing certain gender medicine services. The new mental and behavioral health facility was never intended to provide such care. The OU Health Senior Leadership team is proactively planning the ceasing of certain gender medicine services across our facilities and that plan is already under development,” OU Health said in a statement.
Oklahoma Children’s is part of OU Health, the University of Oklahoma’s health system.
As recently as earlier this week, Oklahoma Children’s offered a variety of different gender services, including “pausing puberty,” “managing gender-affirming hormone therapy,” and “helping find surgeons who perform gender-affirming surgeries,” according to an archived version of its website.
The website has now been updated to remove references to pausing puberty, hormone treatments, and surgery referrals, along with a statement from the health system about the new legislation.
“In light of the legislation signed by Governor Stitt, we have ceased hormone-related prescription therapies and surgical procedures for gender-affirming services on patients under the age of 18,” reads the statement from OU Health.
“OU Health provides care in accordance with all state and federal laws and in compliance with regulatory governing bodies,” OU Health added.
Oklahoma Republicans said they wanted to give the money to OU Health for its new pediatric mental health hospital, and behavioral health is the priority right now.
“I’m thankful for language in this bill that protects children from the practice of mutilation through gender reassignment medical treatment,” said State Rep. Kevin West (R), who represents Oklahoma City. “This unbelievably harmful practice cannot be reversed, and has lasting physical and psychological consequences that can damage these children for the rest of their lives.”