State Watch

Oklahoma lawmaker lowers age limit in proposed gender-affirming care ban

FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2019, file photo, Oklahoma state Sen. David Bullard poses for a photo in his office in Oklahoma City. School teachers in Oklahoma with a gun license would be able to carry firearms into their classrooms with district approval under a bill approved in the state Senate. The bill passed after it was amended to beef up the training requirements, requiring teachers to participate in active-shooter training with local law enforcement. The proposed new law is optional and would require a local school board approval first. “We have a lot of kids right now who are vulnerable,” said Bullard, a Durant Republican whose rural district includes several small districts he says can’t afford to hire a police officer. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

An Oklahoma state senator plans to revise proposed legislation to bar transgender adults up to 26 years old from accessing gender-affirming health care, lowering the age threshold to 18 amid backlash from LGBTQ and civil rights groups.

“Yeah, so, we are lowering the age,” state Sen. David Bullard (R), the primary sponsor of Oklahoma Senate Bill 129, told the Washington Examiner in an interview this week. “It is now going to actually be in Senate Bill 613. And we are lowering the age to 18.”

The bill was introduced in January as the “Millstone Act” in a reference to a Bible verse about punishing sinners.

Bullard’s original bill sought to bar state health care providers from administering or recommending gender-affirming medical care, including puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries, to patients younger than 26 years old. Violators would face felony charges and the loss of their medical licenses.

The proposed legislation would have prohibited public funds from being used to either “directly or indirectly” provide gender-affirming health care to an individual younger than 26 and would have barred the state Medicaid program from covering procedures related to a person’s gender transition.

It is unclear whether those provisions will be included in the revised bill. The Hill has reached out to Bullard’s office for clarification.

The original proposal drew sharp backlash from LGBTQ advocates, who said the measure would have dire consequences for transgender and gender-nonconforming people in Oklahoma. Ahead of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) State of the State address on Monday, hundreds of protesters crowded into the state Capitol to rally support for LGBTQ rights.

At least 15 bills to heavily restrict or ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youths and young adults have been introduced this year by Oklahoma lawmakers, whose 2023 legislative session began Monday.

During a special session in September, Oklahoma legislators approved a measure to block the University of Oklahoma Medical Center from using federal funds to provide gender-affirming medical care to minors. 

Stitt signed the bill into law the following month and in a signing statement called on the legislature to “ban all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors” in Oklahoma.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening all across our nation, and as governor I will not allow life-altering transition surgeries on minor children in the state of Oklahoma,” he said.

Stitt on Monday again asked the legislature to send a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors to his desk.

Most major medical organizations agree that gender-affirming health care for transgender youths and adults is safe, medically necessary and often lifesaving.

Tags David Bullard Gender-affirming care Kevin Stitt

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