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While the University of Oklahoma health care system will receive $39M in stimulus money for updated pediatric care, the funds may not be used to provide gender-affirming care, according to a bill state lawmakers want to pass.
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, OU will receive over $100M to update healthcare facilities for both youth and adults. However, that money comes with strings attached – strings that further marginalize transgender youth.
HB 1007 was authored by Oklahoma House Reps Kevin Wallace and Ryan Martinez, as well as state Senators Roger Thompson and Chuck Hall. All of the bill’s authors are members of the Oklahoma GOP.
HB 1007 includes a provision that “no monies shall be budgeted or expended… for the benefit of any facility performing ‘gender reassignment medical treatment’ to children under 18. The bill defines “gender reassignment medical treatment” as facilitating “the transitioning of a patient’s assigned gender identity on the patient’s birth certificate to the gender identity experienced and defined by the patient.”
The bill stands in stark contrast to the position taken by the American Medical Association regarding medical care for transgender youth. According to the AMA, “We believe it is inappropriate and harmful for any state to legislatively dictate that certain transition-related services are never appropriate and limit the range of options physicians and families may consider when making decisions for pediatric patients.”
Oklahoma bill takes transgender care decision away from families
Furthermore, the bill interferes with the relationship between doctor and patient, bringing conservative ideology into healthcare. “Decisions about medical care belong within the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship,” the AMA continued.
Meanwhile, transgender youth already face daily challenges to their very existence. Black trans youth in particular have higher rates of suicide and self-harm, as well as mental health concerns.
One in three Black trans youth has attempted suicide. Additionally, members of the Black LGBTQIA+ community do not receive mental health care at the same rate as their white counterparts.
According to the ACLU of Oklahoma, “Parents, patients, and medical professionals – not politicians – should decide what medical care is in the best interest of any young person. The ACLU of Oklahoma will continue to fight to protect the needs of all transgender people, and we condemn the intrusive actions of lawmakers who continue to use children as political pawns.”
Organizations condemn Oklahoma bill
Meanwhile, according to Representative Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), “I don’t believe that government funds, which is public funds, taxpayer funds, should be going towards the genital mutilation of minors. I believe we should have an entire statewide ban on puberty blockers and any sort of transgender surgery on minors.”
Freedom Oklahoma’s executive director, Nicole McAfee, released a statement regarding HB 1007. “It is a dangerous standard to suggest medical facilities across Oklahoma should base their care on the views of extremists in the legislature rather than best practice or community needs.”
OU currently has a youth LGBTQIA+ program to provide gender-affirming care to minors. It’s called “Roy G. Biv”. Such care includes mental health support, discussions of gender identity, and managing medical transitions.