Oklahoma Aims to Ban Gender-Affirming Care Even for Adults, Escalating War on Trans People

Republican lawmakers are no longer just saying kids are “too young” to transition—they’re saying trans people shouldn’t exist altogether.

Oklahoma Aims to Ban Gender-Affirming Care Even for Adults, Escalating War on Trans People
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has already signed several anti-trans bills in 2022. Photo:Bloomberg, Vladimir Vladimirov (Getty Images)

Anti-trans state lawmakers have spent the better part of this year peddling bill after bill to police and punish trans kids, their families, and gender-affirming care providers. Their “reasoning,” they said, was that kids are too young to know whether they’re queer or trans, although they’re somehow old enough to know that they’re cis and straight.

As it turns out, all of that “reasoning” was bullshit. Now that the floodgates have fully opened, lawmakers are coming for trans adults, too: Ahead of the 2023 state legislative session, Oklahoma Republicans introduced a bill to prohibit gender-affirming care up to the age of 21—meaning for about three years of full legal adulthood, you can vote, buy a gun, or serve in the U.S. military, but you can’t make decisions about your own body. H.B. 1011 also threatens any “physician or other health care professional” who so much as refers someone to a gender-affirming care provider with 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Pre-filed this week, the bill will be formally introduced in Oklahoma’s legislature this February.

NPR reports that as of November, more than half of states have sought to restrict gender-affirming health care. Among these states, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, and Tennessee have enacted partial or total bans on gender-affirming care. (The laws in Alabama and Arkansas are currently temporarily blocked by court injunctions.)

In May, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a bill that requires students at public schools as well as public charter schools to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching the sex listed on their birth certificates. Before that, in March, Stitt signed a bill banning trans youth from competing on sports teams, and in April, he signed a bill that bans nonbinary gender markers on birth certificates in the state. With HB 1011, Stitt will have the opportunity to target trans adults, too.

To be certain, these laws have carried a devastating impact for trans and nonbinary youth, who are being isolated and forced off of sports teams, silenced from expressing themselves in classrooms, and even forced to move across state lines as states like Texas threaten to criminalize and separate supportive families. A poll from earlier this year found 85% of trans and nonbinary youth said anti-LGBTQ laws negatively impacted their mental health, while more than half said they “seriously considered” suicide in the past year. In June, the mother of a trans teen in Texas said her child had attempted suicide while their family was investigated by the state government.

But the end-game of anti-trans lawmakers has always expanded beyond targeting and exerting total control over children; they aim to erase or at least dehumanize trans people altogether.

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