February 1, 2023

A new bill aims to put more restrictions on transgender people.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation in October banning gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18, threatening to withhold $39.4 million in ARPA funds from OU Children’s if the organization provides the care.

Lindsey Whitworth, a parent to a son who is transgender and falls in the 18-20 age gap, told many in the transgender community that turning 18 means more than becoming a legal adult.

“Just not a place where it’s safe for them to come out, so a lot of them are waiting for the moment where they’re 18 and now I get to make those decisions,” Lindsey said.

The newly introduced HB 1011 bill, if passed, will make proven medical care for transgender people illegal for adults under the age of 21.

“That’s a terribly bad thing to do to anyone, and in Oklahoma we want you to stop it completely,” said HB 1011 author Rep. Jim Olsen. He continued: “Basically to protect children from things that are going to be very, very harmful to them in the long run. You could argue very strongly that everyone should be banned because they are so harmful.”

The bill criminalizes procedures that any doctor performs, or even refers a patient to gender-affirming procedures. Both violations could result in criminal charges.

The doctor can also face a fine of up to $100,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

“Through the introduction of something like this, you know that even if it doesn’t go through, there’s already that fear factor for medical providers,” said Nicole McAfee, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma.

“It’s amazing to me that you can tell parents, I know better than you and your doctor what to do with your child, and tell adult adults that you can’t have plastic surgery or take hormones,” he said Added Lindsey.

Procedures under fire are commonly known as butt surgeries, which are not legal for anyone under the age of 16.

“Making these things illegal isn’t going to stop people from coming out. That’s not it. They won’t stop people from being trans, non-binary. You’re not going to stop this, you’re just leaving to make her life less safe,” Lindsey said.

Also in the bill, public funds will be withheld from any organization that provides gender-affirming care to people under the age of 21: “Public funds shall not be used, granted, paid or distributed, directly or indirectly, to any body, organization or person involved in the procedures for Offers sex reassignment surgery to a person under the age of twenty-one (21). Any breach will result in the loss of this funding.”

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