Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation Tuesday that will prevent minors from receiving certain gender-transition treatments from University of Oklahoma medical facilities.
Senate Bill 3xx, passed during last week’s special legislative session, threatens to withhold $108.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, including nearly $40 million for children’s behavioral health, unless the procedures are stopped. The procedures include “top” surgery and hormone treatments to delay puberty.
Legislators said last week they’d been told five minors have undergone surgeries to alter their upper bodies to conform with their gender identification.
“By signing this bill today we are taking the first step to protect children from permanent gender transition surgeries and therapies,” Stitt said Tuesday in a press release. “It is wildly inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be used for condoning, promoting, or performing these types of controversial procedures on healthy children.”
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Stitt said he favors a blanket statewide ban on the procedures for people under 18. It is unclear how common such treatments are among Oklahoma teens, not just at University of Oklahoma medical facilities.
ACLU-Oklahoma said banning the procedures is wrongheaded and ignores accepted medical practice.
“Medical experts agree: Gender-affirming care is medically necessary care. And today’s actions, along with the displays on the House and Senate floors, show a fundamental ignorance about medical treatment for transgender youth,” said ACLU-Oklahoma Executive Director Tamya Cox-Toure.
SB 3xx apparently was the first of more than two-dozen ARPA bills approved in last week’s special session acted upon by Stitt. Besides the allocation for children’s behavioral health, it includes $20 million for an extension of OU’s Stephenson Cancer Center into northeast Oklahoma, $44 million for digital records systems and $5.2 million for mobile dental clinics.
A short time after announcing that he had signed SB 3xx, Stitt signed a non-ARPA bill passed during the special session. House Bill 1006xx makes $20 million in emergency drought relief available for the state’s farmers and ranchers.
“This year’s extreme drought conditions have created unprecedented challenges for our agricultural producers, and as governor I will always do everything I can to support Oklahoma’s great farmers and ranchers,” said Stitt, who in late summer issued an executive order easing some trucking regulations to facilitate hay hauling.
Some, though, have criticized Stitt for not acting sooner, with the entire state at some level of drought as measured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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