Oklahoma hospital system halts some care for trans youth after state funding threat

The University of Oklahoma Medical Center has shut down some health services for trans youth under 18 after the governor signed a bill that would withhold federal funds if the state’s flagship university health system state did not comply.

The big picture: Republicandriven states have increasingly introduced and enacted laws targeting transgender youth – even as medical associations have largely supported gender-affirming care.

Why is this important: Oklahoma has already enacted laws that restrict the ability of trans youth to play sports, use school restrooms in accordance with their gender identity, and ban non-binary gender markers on state birth certificates.

  • But this new bill sets a precedent that could be replicated by other states.

Driving the news: Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Tuesday signed a bill authorizing more than $108 million in pandemic relief funds at the OU Medical Center.

  • But the money – which would be used for cancer care, pediatric behavioral healthcare and other infrastructure would be held back if Oklahoma Children’s Hospital did not stop providing gender-affirming medical care to minors.
  • According to the OU Health website, medical services related to gender identity were previously available to people under the age of 24.
  • Oklahoman had reported that about 100 children were receiving gender-affirming care at Children’s Hospital.

What they say : “It is extremely inappropriate that taxpayer dollars be used to condone, promote or perform these types of controversial procedures on healthy children,” Stitt said in a statement.

  • “Medical decisions belong to patients, their parents and their doctors,” Tamya Cox-Toure, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said in a statement.
  • “Yet politicians, attempting to appeal to their base during an election year, have continued their attacks on bodily autonomy by intervening between those directly affected and the care they need and deserve.”

To note : Three medical groups sent a letter to the Justice Department this week to investigate growing threats of violence against children’s hospitals and staff providing gender-affirming care.

And after: Oklahoma could face a lawsuit over the bill, writes NBC.

  • The ACLU and other groups have successfully argued that state Medicaid policies cannot prohibit coverage of gender-affirming care for transgender patients if they provide those same treatments to treat other conditions for other patients.

Go further: 2021 sees record number of bills targeting trans youth

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