Protesters Denounce Senate Bill Ending Certain Gender Confirmation Programs at OU Health in State Capitol | New

Protesters gathered inside the Oklahoma State Capitol on Thursday afternoon as both houses of the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill ending certain confirmation programs like OU Health.

Sarah, who is transgender and the parent of a non-binary child, protested outside the Oklahoma House of Representatives as the bill, which sought to end gender confirmation care for children in the system health of the OU, was under discussion. Sarah has chosen not to provide a last name for privacy and security reasons.

Sarah arrived at the State Capitol at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, equipped with signs opposing Senate Bill 3. A resident of Oklahoma for less than a year, Sarah left Texas expecting more freedoms and access to gender-confirmation healthcare.

SB 3, similar to House Bill 1007, would donate more than $108 million to OU Health for a pediatric mental health facility, the use of electronic records, and the creation of a Stephenson Cancer Center in Tulsa. These bills, however, included a provision to end certain gender confirmation treatments for minors. OU Health later announced that plans were underway to discontinue some aspects of that care.

“They’re currently voting to take away the biggest source of medical care in Oklahoma for trans kids because they’re trans,” Sarah said. “When the session resumes in January, they will tackle medical care for all trans people.”

Nicole McAfee, another protester from HB 1007 and SB 3, interacted with other defenders in the roundhouse. Arriving early in the morning like many other protesters, McAfee spoke to members of Congress during breaks throughout the day to air their grievances against the bill.

A resident of Oklahoma for seven years, McAfee, executive director of Liberty Oklahoma, has already made progress in 2SLGBTQ+ advocacy in the state. They organize political work to ensure equality for historically marginalized communities in their work at Freedom Oklahoma, with a particular focus on 2SLGBTQ+ rights.

“I think it’s really important for everyone to know that there are trans people in every community in Oklahoma. There always have been,” McAfee said. , the legislature is essentially enacting policy that is trans genocide.”

As the House floor debated the bill, participant Kris Williams weighed in on the suggestion that gender confirmation processes were mutilation. Williams spoke about the need for experts to create 2SLGBTQ+ inpatient programs to help 2SLGBTQ+ youth before they are discharged.

Kris Williams stands on Capitol Hill after being removed from the House Floor gallery for verbally protesting claims that gender confirmation surgery was mutilation during the debate.

After her withdrawal, Williams explained her story to The Daily in developing the hospitalization NEST Program at Cedar Ridge Behavioral Hospital in 2017. Williams also said she has helped several other programs in Oklahoma over the past 20 years, ranging from children’s health to homelessness.

Williams referenced her fears of the bill’s passage by saying the bill will lead to increased suicide rates and less safe sources of hormones.

“They didn’t take the time to look at the stats,” Williams said. “It’s not body mutilation. What they’re doing is absolutely dangerous, and it’s a political ploy.

Despite protesters’ hopes, SB 3 passed with 68 votes in favor and 23 votes against. Several protesters and representatives expressed disappointment with the passage of the bill, saying transgender and non-binary children are being targeted more by the Oklahoma Legislature. The bill will now head to Governor Kevin Stitt’s office for approval. If signed, the bill will be enacted immediately.

Representative Mauree Turner, Democrat of Oklahoma City, was also among the disappointed crowd gathered in front of the floor.

Turner said the bill shows the Oklahoma legislature does not believe there is room for transgender people in Oklahoma.

“I hope that[OU]campus students, whether or not they’re registered to vote here, really engage,” Turner said. “The government of Oklahoma, OR, any institution you receive higher education from, they dictate your daily life. How you hear things, how you think things. We need to be actively engaged and be active participants and not passive recipients of what they say (of the 2SLGBTQ+ community).

Turner was among the session’s main debaters and is a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Upon their election in 2020, Turner became the first and only non-binary representative in the Oklahoma Legislative Assembly and the first non-binary legislator in the United States.

Turner said that while they are discouraged by the passage of the bill, they see rallying support for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“The people of Oklahom basically understand how to care, but the legislature doesn’t,” Turner said. “(I’m) shocked by the outcome of the legislation today, (but) very, very optimistic about Oklahoma’s future. And I hope that really lights a fire under people when it’s time for them to do what they’re ready to do.

Norman D. Briggs