Oklahoma Republicans Pass Bill Banning Gender-Affirming Care for Kids and Adults
The Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors—and effectively banning it for most adults, too.
HB2177, which passed in the Oklahoma House today and now goes on to the state senate, prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming healthcare like puberty blockers, hormones, or surgery to trans people under the age of 18. Any doctor who tries to provide care to a trans minor could have their medical license revoked.
Although the bill seems to focus on minors, it also explicitly bans the use of public funds or health insurance for gender-affirming care for trans adults. That means that an adult trans person can only access gender-affirming care if they can pay for it out of pocket.
The press release put out by the bill’s co-sponsors, shared by Chase Strangio on Twitter, uses a variety of scare tactics to make gender-affirming care sound dangerous. Rep. Kevin West claims that doctors who provide gender-affirming care “seek to profit from [minors’] gender confusion.” He also claims that gender-affirming care is “irreversible,” and that “the decisions people make as a teenager may be shortsighted and later regretted.” West says that “Even one child who undergoes a life-altering procedure and later laments their decision is one too may.”
In reality, gender-affirming care for kids and teens isn’t the sudden, swift procedure that West claims to think it is. According to the Mayo Clinic, puberty blockers—which pause puberty so that trans kids can consider their decision and plan their next steps—are fully reversible, losing their effect when the patient stops taking them. When it comes to more permanent changes, the evidence shows that by the time patients are ready to start those treatments, they’re generally secure in their decisions. A recent study found that only 2.5% of children who came out as trans chose to detransition within five years. Of that 2.5%, only one person out of 317 in the study detransitioned after starting some form of physical treatment.
Is this the “one child” West talks about—the one who undergoes an irreversible procedure and then regrets it? No one is arguing that gender-affirming care shouldn’t be a thoughtful process between a patient and their doctor. In fact, that’s the whole point of reversible practices like social transition and puberty blockers. The horror stories about children being pressured to transition are urban legends and transphobic myths.
More importantly, gender-affirming care saves lives. Trans kids and teens suffer from increased rates of depression, violence, and risk of suicide—risks that are alleviated not by bans and gender policing, but by acceptance and affirmation of their true genders.
(featured image: Spencer Platt, Getty Images)
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