TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — A district court held up the ruling on Senate Bill 613 banning gender-transition procedures for minors in Oklahoma.
Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement following the upheld ruling:
I am pleased with the court’s decision to uphold Oklahoma’s common sense law protecting children from dangerous, permanent sex change surgeries. Here in Oklahoma, we protect our kids. Plain and simple.
SB 613 bans gender-transition surgeries and hormonal therapies for minors. The bill was passed in April and will take effect at the beginning of November.
Oklahomans for Equality Executive Director Dorothy Ballard says this ruling will negatively impact the lives of youth who identify as transgender and Oklahomans as a whole.
“The impact is one that is going to be grave for all transgender persons, especially youth and their caretakers but for all Oklahomans really,” said Ballard. “All of us should be very alarmed by this decision and the fact that a judge was able to, in my opinion, so casually dismiss the constitutional rights of bodily autonomy and decision-making for youth and for parents.”
Ballard says this bill and the support garnered for bills such as this are primarily based on misinformation.
“Experts are not being consulted or listened to or taken seriously,” said Ballard. “Legislators are not doing their due diligence in researching these proposals and these laws. In turn, all Oklahomans but now some of our most vulnerable, our youth, are being impacted. Whenever you start putting a barrier between people and necessary medical care that’s a big red flag.”
She says bills like this can and have driven families out of Oklahoma.
“What you’ll see over and over again whenever these issues come up or challenges to these issues come up, you’ll hear from longtime Oklahomans who have established themselves here or people who have grown up here, people who own businesses here and have pursued their education here. Taking all those towns and investments, and even their family root, lifting it and leaving the state. So we are accomplishing the exact opposite of what we have been working toward for so long,” said Ballard.
Ballard said by passing bills like these, legislators are harming the future of Oklahoma.
“That’s seeing the best and the brightest of us, our future, being chased out of the state,” said Ballard. “By targeting youth specifically under the guise of protecting them, what we are doing is we are really hobbling the future of Oklahoma. We are saying that only specific kinds of people are welcome here.”
Republican Senator David Bullard says this bill is necessary to ensure protections for kids against a dangerous ideology that is convincing them of a lie and causing them to be willing to undergo physical mutilation.
“I am pleased that the court sees the importance of protecting kids from the harms of genitalia mutilation and sterilization. It is important that we ensure protections for our kids against this dangerous ideology that seeks to convince them of a lie and then are willing to cause physical mutilation and harm while doing so. We will not turn a blind eye to this atrocity being fabricated on our kids. You cannot cure confusion with a knife but they sure can make a lot of money from it,” said Sen. Bullard in a statement in part.
Under the law, providing the procedures is a felony and health care providers can be prosecuted or have their licenses revoked.
Ballard says if it was another child suffering from a chronic issue and the state was banning care for them the discussion would be different.
“Because it is specifically related to queer and trans people, that discussion is being clouded by both implicit and explicit bias,” said Ballard. “We are talking about medical care here and we are talking about necessary medical care and we are talking about stuff that has already been medically and scientifically established. We also have knowledge and support from many nations across the world who have been engaged in this kind of care for youth for a long time. And even other states in our country that have been doing so.”
Sen. Bullard says the core of this issue always comes down to money.
“When we get to the root of the problem, it is always about money and not about what is best for kids. Today, Oklahoma kids won,” said Sen. Bullard.
Minors who are already taking hormones and puberty-blocking drugs can continue the treatment until June 2024.
Ballard says the reality of this bill is that Oklahoma is losing kids to depression and suicide as a result of the absence of this sort of care.
“What is happening, is we are losing kids and we are not just losing them by them the state, we are losing them,” said Ballard. “What we have is children dealing with very adult levels of anxiety, depression and high levels of suicidal ideation. It impacts on their education and ability to be functional students.”
Ballard says Oklahomans for Equality is doing their part to provide resources for those involved and affected by the case.
“We are going to continue to advocacy work, we are going to continue with our gender support groups at the center, we are going to continue with legal aid services. We are going to continue with name change and gender marker services available at the center as well. We are providing counseling, we are providing clinical services for adults, we are providing referrals and safety net referrals for families that do want to relocate or families that are seeking medical care outside of the state,” said Ballard.