Health officials decry Oklahoma GOP's 'unbelievably mean-spirited' campaign against transgender youth
In Oklahoma, the OU Health hospital is counting on federal pandemic relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. But Republicans in that state have given OU an ultimatum: if they want to receive $108 million in Rescue Plan funds, Oklahoma Children’s Hospital — which is part of the OU system — will have to stop providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
Washington Post reporter Kimberly Kindy, in an article published on October 4, explains, “The move, which Oklahoma Gov. Kevin J. Stitt (R) signed into law on Tuesday, marks the first time conservative state lawmakers have successfully tied gender-affirming care to the receipt of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the $1.9 trillion effort to restart the economy and harden medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. Oklahoma Republicans, who were pushed into action through a campaign led by a pair of conservative podcasters, hailed the move as necessary to restrict the type of medical care for young transgender patients that has riled the party’s base this year.”
Officials for OU Health, according to Kindy, have not said “which services will halt as a result of the legislation.” Kindy reports that “parents of transgender children who are receiving care at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital say they may have to travel to Kansas or Colorado.”
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One Oklahoma parent who isn’t the least bit happy about this development is Shane Poindexter, whose 14-year-old transgender son has been receiving hormone suppression drugs through OU Health.
Poindexter, interviewed by the Post, said of the treatment, “It is someplace they can go and be who they are and be accepted. Kids are bullies; it was mentally destroying him. The love and affection from that place is amazing. We don’t know what we are going to do now.”
Cathryn Oakley of the Human Rights Campaign is also highly critical of the bill that Stitt signed into law on October 4.
Oakley told the Post, “It’s so outrageous and unbelievably mean-spirited. It’s literally about COVID relief. It’s about restarting the economy.”
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Kindy notes that the “push to end OU Health’s transgender care was accelerated by two conservative podcasters,” Mark Ousley and Megan Fox, who “last month began demanding action from legislators on their programs and social media.”
“The target of their ire was the Roy G. Biv Program at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, which for the last six years, has offered mental health counseling and hormone therapy, including puberty blockers,” Kindy explains. “In a handful of cases, it has also referred patients transitioning from female to male to surgeons for mastectomies. Mark Ousley appealed to his 20,000 Twitter followers and listeners to his Oklahoma-based ‘UnWokable Podcast’ in mid-September to call on lawmakers and demand OU Health’s federal money be withheld. He was later joined by Megan Fox, a conservative podcaster who broadcast the calls she made to lawmakers and provided her 23,000 Twitter followers with scripts to do the same.”
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