Advocates Promise Swift Legal Action Against Restrictions on Health Care for Oklahoman Trans Youth

Affiliate: ACLU of Oklahoma
February 2, 2023 11:00 am

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and Lambda Legal today promised swift legal action in opposition to proposed restrictions on critical and often life-saving health care for transgender Oklahomans should any be signed into law.

Oklahoma lawmakers have proposed at least 15 bills seeking to bar transgender people, particularly those under 18, from accessing essential and often life-saving forms of gender-affirming care, ignoring the warnings of transgender youth, their families, and their medical providers. Similar laws in Arkansas and Alabama are currently enjoined by federal court orders, and the three organizations are also challenging an Oklahoma law passed in 2022 banning transgender students from equal access to school facilities.

Attributable to Megan Lambert, legal director at ACLU of Oklahoma:

“All Oklahomans deserve the support and care necessary for the opportunity to thrive, including our transgender community. Gender-affirming care is a critical part of helping transgender youth and adults succeed in life by establishing healthy relationships with their friends and family and by living authentically as themselves. For many people, gender-affirming care is also necessary for basic survival. Medical and mental health treatment for transgender individuals is guided by evidence-based clinical guidelines and built on the individual needs of each patient. Blanket bans on treatment disrupt medically-necessary care and result in negative health outcomes including anxiety, depression, and suicidality. The ACLU of Oklahoma and our partners are determined to fight these baseless laws until they are struck down. Make no mistake, this is a promise of legal action should any of these bills be signed into law.”

Attributable to Harper Seldin, staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project:

“Gender-affirming care is lifesaving. Every major medical association opposes bans on gender-affirming care, and these bills will push medical providers out of Oklahoma, which is already facing a shortage of doctors. These proposed bans do not protect anyone in Oklahoma. Instead, they will expose Oklahoma to millions of dollars in litigation costs and fees. Courts have already blocked laws like these in other states, and the ACLU will fight these hostile laws. Oklahoma legislators have no business telling parents that they cannot seek lifesaving care for their transgender children, or stopping adults from accessing safe and effective care for themselves, just because they are transgender.”

Attributable to Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, counsel and health care strategist at Lambda Legal:

“Access to health care is a human right, and our Constitution promises every person the right to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into their lives. Targeting some of our most vulnerable youth – transgender young people who need love, support, and access to the medical care they need – for discrimination is wrong and dangerous. Enacting an ideological agenda driven by ignorance and prejudice, instead of science and compassion, is not the way forward. We urge the legislature and the governor to not adopt any measure that endangers the health, well-being, and very lives of transgender Oklahomans. We will not hesitate to defend transgender Oklahomans’ rights to equality, liberty, and nondiscriminatory access to the health care they need.”

In September 2022, Oklahoma state legislators threatened to withhold COVID relief funding from Oklahoma University hospitals if they did not end their program supporting transgender youth. Such restrictions are opposed by leading medical experts and organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Any person at risk of being affected by these restrictions on gender-affirming care should reach out to or

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