An unusually quiet Oklahoma capitol was rocked by the trans debate Monday when nearly 150 people from multiple advocacy groups gathered in opposition to the many Republican-backed bills aimed at protecting youth, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Freedom Oklahoma and Oklahomans for Equality protestors made their way into the capitol, occupying the interior rotunda. They assembled in opposition to several bills, including the Millstone Act, that prevent doctors from “providing gender transition procedures or referrals” to individuals under 26.
Senate Bill 129, which bans “gender-affirming” surgeries, empowers the state’s attorney general to punish those who violate the measure with a felony and license revocation. The state’s legislature has yet to vote on it as of this time.
The organizers of the event said the bill is “genocide,” claiming that preventing these procedures leads to trans youth suicide.
But according to Oklahoma's Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt,“We must protect our most vulnerable — our children.” He then focused on children’s vulnerability: “Minors can’t vote, can’t purchase alcohol, can’t purchase cigarettes … We shouldn’t allow a minor to get a permanent gender altering surgery.”
Stitt added: “As governor, I will not be intimidated by partisan interest groups or make a decision based on groupthink. I will continue my responsibility to lead, not follow.”
Although less expansive, State Rep. Jim Olsen’s House Bill 101 prevents doctors from providing referrals for cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers, and gender reassignment procedures for those under 21.
Senate Bill 250 prohibits the use of state funds on gender transitioning procedures for those under the age of 18. The protesters told the Daily Mail that they believe children, regardless of age, should be permitted to such care.
Zephyr Cove, a protester at the event, told the collegiate outlet, OU Nightly, children should be able to have the procedures “as soon as they have a sense of self” and that “kids shouldn’t be forced to have to deny” their sexuality “because the people around them won’t listen.”
Stitt signed a bill last year effectively banning transgender females from participating in girls’ sports. The bill also bans transgender females from using female locker rooms.
At the time, he said, “We want to make sure if we’re going to do a procedure like this that is irreversible, then we make sure an individual is at their full maturity.” His reasoning is based upon existing research confirming the brain is still developing up to 25 years of age.
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