A Republican senator has proposed an anti-trans bill that would criminalise gender-affirming healthcare for anyone under the age of 21 in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma state senator Warren Hamilton is the sole sponsor of anti-trans bill SB 676, which would make it “unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years to undergo gender reassignment medical treatment in this state”.
Trans healthcare including puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and gender-affirming surgeries (not usually recommended for under-18s) would all be criminalised if the bill passes, which was introduced on 2 January.
Doctors, parents of young trans people and trans youth themselves would be criminalised for providing or undergoing any “medical procedures to alleviate the symptoms of clinically significant distress resulting from gender dysphoria”, except for “mental-health counselling”.
If it passes, those who break this law and access trans healthcare in Oklahoma would be punished by fines of up to $20,000 and potentially life imprisonment.
Hamilton was elected in the November 2020 US election. He’s a military veteran and a Christian who ran for office vowing to ban abortion (calling it “an abomination before God”), protect gun ownership and uphold “family structures” – stating that marriage is between one man, one woman and God; that there are only two sexes; and that LGBT+ people have “attacked” traditional family values and caused “current cultural decay”.
‘Extreme’ anti-trans bill ‘part of a larger trend’.
Human Rights Watch called SB 676 “extreme” and “draconian”, warning that “taking autonomy away from young adults” is “part of a worrying larger trend”.
The Oklahoma bill comes amid a slew of anti-trans bills being pitched by Republicans across the US, many of which target gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth.
“This seemingly coordinated assault on transgender kids flies in the face of what medical professionals, parents, and transgender kids say they need,” Ryan Thoreseon, researcher for HRW’s LGBT+ rights programme, wrote.
“Studies show that transgender kids can reap huge benefits from being able to socially transition – that is, to have others treat them in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
“Bills that shut transgender kids out of sports or bar teachers from respecting their gender identity fly in the face of transgender children’s rights and well-being.”
Elsewhere, Republicans are sponsoring bills that would ban transgender students from playing on the school sports team corresponding to their gender (Montana, New Hampshire); criminalise doctors who provide gender-affirming healthcare to trans youth (Utah, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama); force trans people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender they were assigned at birth (Indiana); and redefine “child abuse” to include parents who support their trans children in getting gender-affirming healthcare (New Hampshire).
“Many lawmakers continue to threaten the livelihoods of transgender people and their families,” says the website of the Equality Federation, an LGBT+ advocacy organisation and movement-building group that tracks anti-trans bills.
“In the past we’ve seen efforts to ban transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender, and attempts to ban transgender people from getting the healthcare they need. More recently, we’re also seeing lawmakers target transgender youth specifically by trying to retract access to affirming healthcare, sports, and facilities that match their gender.
“Discriminatory efforts like these make the journeys of young people more difficult than it needs to be.”
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