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ACLU sues over new Oklahoma law banning gender-transition treatment for minors

The ink was barely dry on Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s signature when the American Civil Liberties Union sued to stop the enforcement of Senate Bill 613, a law banning gender-transition hormones and surgeries for minor children.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a legal challenge Tuesday in Oklahoma federal court to block the newly signed law, which makes it a felony to provide gender-transition treatment to those under 18. The challenge argues that the state law violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“We all deserve the freedom to control our bodies and seek the healthcare we need, including gender-affirming care,” said Megan Lambert, ACLU of Oklahoma legal director. “The ACLU of Oklahoma and our partners have warned lawmakers that we will take swift action on any ban on gender-affirming care signed into law, and today is the day we make good on that promise.”

Oklahoma became the 18th state to restrict gender-transition procedures for minors when the Republican governor signed the bill Monday after it overwhelmingly passed both chambers on party-line votes. The law takes effect immediately.

“Last year, I called for a statewide ban on all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors so I am thrilled to sign this into law today and protect our kids,” said Mr. Stitt. “We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening across our nation, and as governor I am proud to stand up for what’s right and ban life-altering transition surgeries on children in the state of Oklahoma.”

Those cheering the bill’s passage included Matt Sharp, director of the Alliance Defending Freedom Center for Legislative Advocacy, who commended Mr. Stitt and the Legislature for “standing for truth.”

“Denying the truth that we are either male or female hurts real people, especially vulnerable children,” said Mr. Sharp. “Young people deserve to live in a society that doesn’t subject them to risky experiments to which they cannot effectively consent, including so-called ‘gender transition’ surgeries and drugs.”

He noted that several European countries, including Sweden, England and Finland, are reining in such procedures for children.

“By enacting this legislation, Oklahoma has taken a critical step toward protecting children and parents from being pressured into life-altering, often-sterilizing surgeries and drugs,” Mr. Sharp said.

The ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of Oklahoma City Dr. Shauna Lawlis and five children ages 12-17 undergoing gender-transition treatment said the law would have “devastating consequences for transgender adolescents in Oklahoma.”

“These adolescents will be unable to obtain critical medical care that their health care providers have recommended and their parents agree they need,” said the filing. “Further, those already receiving care will have their treatment halted. For some transgender adolescents, the prospect of losing necessary medical care is unbearable.”

The ACLU has been busy, filing three lawsuits in the last week to block measures banning “gender-affirming care” in Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee.

“We’re confident the state will find itself completely incapable of defending this law in court and welcome the opportunity to fight for the safety, dignity, and equality of trans Oklahomans,” said Harper Seldin, ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project staff attorney.

American Principles Project President Terry Schilling disagreed, applauding Mr. Stitt for signing the measure and declaring that the “momentum is on our side.”

“While the predatory transgender industry has tried to sell the country on what it euphemistically calls ‘gender-affirming care,’ more and more Americans are recognizing this for what it actually is: physical sterilization and mutilation for the sake of ideology and profit,” Mr. Schilling said.

The lawsuit seeking injunctions to prevent the state from enforcing the ban pending the court outcome was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. 

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁