OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he took steps to prevent children from getting gender therapy out of his “duty to protect minors.”
The Republican signed a bill this month that prohibits the University of Oklahoma Medical Center from using COVID relief funds to bankroll gender reassignment treatment for children. Stitt also called on the state legislature to pass a statewide ban when it reconvenes in February.
“We have a duty to protect minors from a lot of things: we don’t let them drink, we don’t let them get tattoos,” Sitt told Fox News. “Their brains aren’t fully developed.”
“This is not something we’re going to allow to be done to minors and use taxpayer dollars,” he continued.
OU’s Children’s Hospital had provided a variety of gender treatments, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy. But the medical center said it ceased certain treatment due to Stitt’s legislation.
Stitt also said that what some people call “gender transition surgery” is “life-changing, -altering sterilization surgeries.”
Advocates for gender-affirming therapy for minors have said early access to puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries can prevent suicide among trans youth. A 2021 survey of nearly 35,000 transgender youth found that 23% of those who couldn’t access gender-affirming hormone therapy attempted suicide compared to under 15% for those that could.
“We don’t know what we are going to do now,” Shane Poindexter told The Washington Post after Stitt signed the bill this month. Poindexter’s 14-year-old attempted suicide before receiving gender-affirming therapy at OU’s Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, the Post reported.
Stitt added other restrictions surrounding gender issues this year, as well. In April, the governor signed a bill banning non-binary birth certificates, and the next month he signed a bill requiring students to use the bathroom associated with their biological sex.
“We believe in traditional family values in Oklahoma,” Stitt told Fox News. “And to think about minors, healthy children being permanently altered either through hormone therapy or some kind of surgery, it’s not going to happen in Oklahoma.”
“Puberty blockers do affect people,” Stitt added.
“We’re not going to let that happen to children,” Stitt said. “Let’s make sure that they’re healthy, that they’re fully developed, that they are adults, and then they can make that decision.”
Puberty blockers are used in gender-affirming care to delay the onset of puberty to give the patient more time to determine whether they want to develop as their biological sex or if they would prefer to undergo hormone therapy to transition, according to Planned Parenthood. They haven’t received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for such use, and the reversibility and long-term effects on sexual function and fertility remain unclear, a Reuters investigation found.
“From what we understand, the medical community believes the effects of hormone therapy on brain development is largely unknown,” Jimmy Nguyen, the president of PFLAG’s Oklahoma City chapter, told Fox News in a statement. “At this time the general consensus by the medical community is that it is better to pause the hormones and allow the youth to come to terms with themselves in their own time.”
“The larger issue at hand here is that Gov. Stitt should not be taking this crucial decision out of the hands of families and the children that they directly affect,” the president of the LGBTQ advocacy group continued. “That seems uncharacteristic for someone who touts family values and freedoms.”
But Stitt told Fox News taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for minors’ gender transitions.
“When the government gets itself involved in all these things, trying to fund all these different things, taxpayers get frustrated,” Stitt said.
“I think every state should be looking at” state-subsidized gender-affirming therapy, he added. “We’re not going to let it happen in Oklahoma.”
Stitt, during his interview with Fox News, shared a message intended for Oklahoma youth seeking gender transition services: “Let’s wait to your mind is fully developed and you’re choosing something as an adult.”
He also said that the legislation wasn’t intended as an attack.
“This isn’t against any one person or any class of people,” Stitt said. “This is just something that doesn’t make sense to do to minors.”