Oklahoma Governor Vows He Won’t Allow ‘Life-Changing’ Gender Surgery for Children

Amid ongoing controversy over the transitioning of gender dysphoric youth, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he’s responsible “to protect minors” in his state and will continue to take steps to prevent children from “being permanently altered” either by hormone therapy or “gender-affirming” surgery.

“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 added.

The Republican governor’s latest comment comes after he signed a bill earlier this month that blocks the Oklahoma University Children’s Hospital from receiving federal pandemic relief money unless it stops performing, what it calls “gender-confirming care” for children.

Stitt explained that what some people call “gender transition surgery” is “life-changing, -altering sterilization surgeries,” noting that this kind of service should only be available to adults who are “healthy” and “fully developed.”

“We’re not going to let that happen to children,” Stitt told the network. “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 do affect people,” the governor added. “We believe in traditional family values in Oklahoma. 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.”

Gender dysphoria, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is a condition of distress created by an individual who identifies with the opposite biological sex.

As previously reported by The Epoch Times, separate studies found 88 percent of boys and girls experiencing gender dysphoria—who had not yet undergone social transitioning—reported when they were teens that it was no longer an issue and they accepted their biological gender.

Stitt, speaking to Oklahoma youth seeking gender transition services, said his legislation “isn’t against any one person or any class of people,” telling Oklahomans that it’s better to wait for such a life-altering decision until they become of age and their mind is fully developed.

Jimmy Nguyen, the president of the LGBT advocacy group “PFLAG’s Oklahoma City,” told Fox News in a statement that the general consensus by the medical community agrees that it is better to pause hormone therapy and “allow the youth to come to terms with themselves in their own time.”

However, he noted that he believes Stitt “should not be taking this crucial decision out of the hands of families and the children that they directly affect.”

‘Wildly Inappropriate’

Stitt said in a statement on Oct. 4 that his law is also meant to prevent tax money from being used to fund irreversible procedures on healthy children.

“It is wildly inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be used for condoning, promoting, or performing these types of controversial procedures on healthy children,” the governor said.

Epoch Times Photo
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs documents in an undated photo downloaded on Oct. 14, 2022. (Courtesy of State of Oklahoma)

The new law sets aside over $108 million in American Rescue Plan funds to the University of Oklahoma’s health system, or OU Health, for a variety of projects such as pediatric mental health care, cancer treatment, and mobile dentistry. However, the health group may only get the money when none of its medical facilities offer “gender reassignment medical treatment” to patients aged under 18.

On Sept. 27, two days before the bill passed Oklahoma’s Republican-led legislature in a special session, OU Health said it would stop providing what it called “gender-confirming care” for children. Stitt said this was not enough, and wanted lawmakers to craft another bill that would ban such treatment on minors across the state.

“I am calling for the legislature to ban all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors when they convene next session in February 2023,” said Stitt, who is running for reelection this November.

Some Republican lawmakers agreed with Stitt, saying that the new law doesn’t go far enough.

“Let’s be abundantly clear. This doesn’t stop minors in the state of Oklahoma from having sex change surgeries,” Republican state Sen. Nathan Dah said during the Sept. 29 special session. “It only stops it from happening at OU.”

Reporting by The Epoch Times.