Oklahoma bishops applaud governor’s signing of bill prohibiting sex changes for minors

Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) attends a roundtable at the White House in Washington, DC June 18, 2020. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, attends a roundtable at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2020. | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead (public domain)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a law Monday prohibiting gender reassignment surgery and hormone use for minors younger than 18 years old.

The new legislation earned praise from the organization representing the state’s Catholic bishops. 

“Having worked closely with House and Senate authors, we commend Gov. Stitt for swiftly signing S.B. 613 into law and adding Oklahoma to the list of states protecting children from these dangerous and irreversible procedures,” Brett Farley, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, told CNA on Tuesday.

Oklahoma is one of 15 other states that have taken steps to ban the controversial procedure for minors. 

The legislation says that if a health care provider administers gender transition procedures to any minor, he or she can be criminally prosecuted for a felony. Health care providers can no longer be prosecuted once the child reaches the age of 45. 

The child whom the transition procedures were performed on, their parents, legal guardians, or next friend — another type of guardianship — can file a civil suit against a health care provider who provided the transition, the bill says.

A suit can be brought by the child until he or she turns 45. However, if a parent, guardian, or next friend wishes to bring a suit, they can only do so until the child turns 18. 

Violating the law can result in revocation of one’s license to practice medicine. 

“I just signed into law a statewide ban on all gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies for children under 18. We must protect our kids!” Stitt, a Republican, tweeted Monday.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa are the two bishops in the Sooner State.

On April 30, Coakley released a pastoral letter titled “On the Unity of the Body and Soul: Accompanying Those Experiencing Gender Dysphoria.”

“It is always heart-wrenching to see a child in pain. There aren’t quick fixes to gender dysphoria, but through unconditional love, patience, and humility, families can navigate these tough topics,” Coakley wrote. 

“Healing requires us to speak about gender and sex in logical and compassionate ways, doing our best to speak into the other’s worldview,” he wrote.

The full letter can be read here.

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