Oklahoma has introduced a bill that effectively bans all gender-affirming healthcare in the US state. People under the age of 26 will not be able to access the care they need.
The Ban on Gender-Affirming Care
Oklahoma has officially banned gender-affirming healthcare for all people under the age of 26. Republic Senator David Bullard proposed the bill SB129 in the first week of the new year. It targets healthcare professionals, prohibiting them from providing gender-affirming care to trans people under the age of 26.
To make matters worse, physicians who simply refer trans patients within said age group to healthcare professionals for them to administer trans healthcare can be convicted of a felony. Penalties could result in a $1,000 fine or even two years in prison. However, non-consensual surgeries on intersex children are allowed to be performed. This is an outrageous exception to an already discriminating bill.
Because of the bill, the trans and gender diverse community in Oklahoma under 26 will have to travel outside of their state to access gender-affirming medical care. It should be illegal to ban healthcare treatment. Instead, it is now illegal to access it in Oklahoma.
America’s Anti-Trans Bills
This is not the first time the US state signs a transphobic bill. In 2022, the governor of Oklahoma approved a bill banning trans women from competing in women’s sports teams. Bullard also signed last year’s bill SB615 mandating that all trans students use gendered facilities that correspond with their sex assigned at birth.
Journalist and activist Alejandra Caraballo stated that this year’s bill will also ban all ‘state and federal funding for any provider that performs gender affirming care’. The new Oklahoma Senate Bill 250 clearly notifies all healthcare professionals that they are not ‘eligible for reimbursement through Medicaid or any other federal or state program or any other funding from any political subdivision of this state’, if they provide gender-affirming treatment to under 26 year olds.
The disturbing news in Oklahoma will affect a large population of trans people. As a result, trans youth are now banned from accessing life-saving treatment. This is one of the worst anti-trans bills yet.
Gender-affirming healthcare has been shown to improve feelings of gender dysphoria. It improves trans people’s mental health and overall well-being. It is evident that legislators and conservative senators are not concerned about trans children’s well-being. Their agenda is to ban all gender-affirming care, thereby criminalising the very existence of trans people.
While not all trans people desire to undergo gender-affirming care, all trans people who do, need to access it! It is their basic human right to have access to life-saving treatment. The debate over whether or not to ban trans healthcare in Oklahoma should have never occurred. It is absolutely disheartening to see that, once again, state governments in the US are taking away trans people’s rights at alarming rates.