The motion, signed Tuesday by Oklahoma Governor Kevin J. Stitt (Republican), For the first time, conservative state legislators have successfully linked gender-affirming care with receiving funding from the American Relief Plans Act (ARPA). ARPA is his $1.9 trillion effort to reboot the economy and boost healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic.
Oklahoma’s Republican Party has taken action through a campaign led by two conservative podcasters, calling the move necessary to limit the types of medical care available to young transgender patients who have angered party supporters this year. welcomed.
“By signing this bill today, you can take the first step toward protecting children from permanent gender reassignment surgery and treatment,” Stitt said in a statement. It is highly inappropriate to be used to condone, promote or carry out this type of controversial treatment of healthy children.”
Some supporters are worried of Latest Movements in Oklahoma May embolden other Republican-majority Congresses to add similar restrictions Before allocating federal and state funds to publicly funded hospitals and clinics. In recent years, state legislatures have introduced hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills. At least 160 bills were considered this year, nearly two-thirds of which focused on transgender rights. Oklahoma has been part of this trend, with legislation restricting access to restrooms and sports for transgender residents.
Covid money trail
It was the largest surge in emergency spending in US history. For two years, six laws and more than $5 trillion were aimed at breaking the deadly hold of the coronavirus pandemic. While this money has saved the U.S. economy from ruin and vaccinated millions of weapons, it has also introduced unprecedented levels of fraud, abuse, and opportunism.
The Washington Post is following the covid money trail to figure out what happened to all this cash in a year-long investigation.
However, transgender advocates and health professionals say OU Health facilities followed best practices of gender-affirming care. OU health officials did not outline which services would be suspended as a result of the law. But an Oklahoma pediatrician who treats transgender youth in the area said he believed all hormone therapy and surgery would be stopped. About 100 children are receiving gender-affirming care at the center, Democratic state senator Carri Hicks told reporters.
Parents of transgender children undergoing treatment at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital say they may have to Travel to Kansas or Colorado. Shane Poindexter, whose 14-year-old transgender son has been in hospital for a year and is on hormone-suppressing drugs, said his son attempted suicide before going to the clinic.
“It’s a place where they can go and be themselves and be accepted. Kids are bullies,” Poindexter said. “It was destroying him mentally. The love and affection from that place is amazing. We don’t know what we’re going to do now.”
The federal stimulus package included about $350 billion to provide virtually unconditional support for state and local government budgets. By the end of last year, it became clear that the economy was recovering much faster than lawmakers expected, thus paving the way for states to use aid in unexpected ways.
In Oklahoma, last year the state legislature opened a public portal that allows any state resident to submit a discretionary fund application. They received more than 1,400 of her proposals, and after a state legislative committee considered them this summer, sent dozens of them across Congress for a vote.
State and local funds are part of a larger pool of nearly $5 trillion that Washington sent in the first two years of the pandemic, creating unprecedented challenges in explaining how the money was spent. Since there are few rules about how states spend their cuts, some Republican governors have tried to finance tax cuts with subsidies, for example. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republican state legislators got federal aid last month to pay for his $12 million fund to cover the cost of flying immigrants to Massachusetts. Used interest.
Children’s hospitals across the country also face growing threats of violence over online anti-LGBTQ campaigns targeting gender-affirming care. Some states have taken other steps to block public funds from being used for transgender care. This year, Florida became her one of at least 10 states that blocked Medicaid coverage for proceedings.
Referring to Oklahoma’s bill, Kathryn Oakley, State Assembly Secretary and Senior Counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for the LGBTQ community, said it was “outrageous and incredibly mean.” “This is literally about easing the coronavirus. It’s about reopening the economy.”
OU Health’s move to end transgender care was fueled by two conservative podcasters. their programs and social media.
The target of their wrath was the Roy G. Biv Program at Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma. The program has provided mental health counseling and hormone therapy, including puberty blockers, for the past six years. In a small number of cases, we refer patients transitioning from female to male to surgeons for mastectomy.
Mark Ousley In mid-September, his 20,000 Twitter followers and listeners of the Oklahoma-based “UnWokable Podcast” called lawmakers and demanded that they withhold federal funding from OU Health. He joined up with conservative podcaster Megan Fox, who aired a phone call to his 23,000 Twitter followers with a script to do the same.
“I’m going to make it my life’s mission to humiliate any Republican who votes for this,” Osley wrote. In a tweet on September 25th.
Transgender advocates and Oklahoma legislators say the campaign has had a noticeable effect.
“One of them live-streamed all day and called legislative officials asking why they were abusing children,” said Cindy Nguyen, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma. says. “There was a lot of inflammatory language. It gained momentum.
Republicans introduced the bill on Sept. 28. Thursday’s debate Republicans claim Young patients were taking hormones that could damage the body.The American Medical Association disputes this.And all transition surgery in Oklahoma under the age of 18 should be banned. Said there was.
“We need to ban gender reassignment in this state to facilitate and facilitate taxpayer money,” said state Senator Jake A. Merrick, Republican. “I think it reflects most of the opinions and values of this state.”
Meanwhile, several Democrats in the House took time out to mention Oklahoma’s first openly non-binary lawmaker, Rep. Molly Turner (D).
“I hope one day they will have some understanding of what it’s like to be born in a body that doesn’t belong to you. That’s what our young people all over Oklahoma are facing.” Turner said, “Came out” to the mother of the second grader. “Oklahoma has the money to feed its people. We don’t need to wage war against them. We don’t need to use our children and young people as pawns. Vote NO.”
The bill passed the House 68-23 after being approved by the Senate 31-13. While the vote was largely in line with party lines, a few Republicans in both houses said the language targeting the OU Health program was not strong enough, or they accepted and donated pandemic relief funds. I voted against the bill because I objected to doing so. completely.
OU Health responded quickly to the move, saying last week that it was already “actively planning to suspend certain sexual medicine services.”
But OU Health president and CEO Richard Lofgren sent an email to health care system employees on Friday saying some members of Congress could introduce legislation targeting transgender programs. “I knew there was something, but I didn’t think it would happen,” he said. ARPA requests are tagged. ”
Lofgren also expressed disappointment that Congress had demanded an immediate end to medical care for transgender people.
“No reasonable timeline was provided for the safe transition of patient care,” he wrote in an email obtained by The Washington Post. It is morally painful to the guiding principles of our profession and the Hippocratic Oath, but we must abide by the law.”
Groups of Republican lawmakers and podcasters want more. Last week, a group of senators held a press conference saying the next step should be a permanent statewide ban on medical services that help Oklahoma youth transition.
“These surgeries, these puberty blockers, these puberty blockers, what’s being done to these kids need to be banned statewide immediately,” said State Senator Nathan Dahm (R) in a recent appearance on Oasley’s podcast. said at a press conference.Dahm, which has previously introduced legislation on the topic but has so far been unable to obtain public hearings, did not respond to calls seeking comment.
On Saturday, Republican lawmakers continued to call for a statewide ban, appealing to Stitt to hold another special session. “I can’t wait until the session and hope I can pass something. This is your moment!” Merrick said in a tweetTag both Fox and Ousley. This post comes just days after Merrick appeared on his Ousley podcast. Merrick did not respond to a call for comment.
But Stitt said Tuesday he would not call another special session on the issue, instead calling for a permanent ban on the treatment, which is expected to be passed next year.
“I am calling on Congress to ban all irreversible sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy on minors when the next Congress convenes in February 2023,” he said. rice field.
Advocates say the bill Stitt signed Tuesday already sets a dangerous precedent.
“It’s about funding medical care for children, contingent on them denying medically necessary care based on discrimination and gender identity,” Oakley said.
Alice Crites and Tony Romm contributed to this report.