The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature, upcoming bills and the terms to know.

Legislative Digest

SB 676:
This bill authored by Warren Hamilton (R) concerns “gender reassignment medical treatment.” If passed, this kind of treatment would be illegal to receive for anyone under the age of 21. People who receive it at this age or doctors who provide it would be subject to prison sentences of at least three years.

Laws preventing people under 18 from sex reassignment therapy have been proposed in several states, Oklahoma being one of them. Increasing the minimum age to 21 and giving prison sentences to violators, however, is a uniquely horrifying and draconian proposal. An adult should be able to obtain whatever medical treatment is seen as healthy and helpful by the medical community, as transitional treatment is.

When trans people are denied medical treatment until later in life, many effects of bodily development are impossible to reverse. Puberty blockers can no longer be used, and mature sex characteristics have already taken root. Waiting until age 21 for these treatments would lessen their efficacy. Under this law, mature adults would be sent to prison for obtaining treatments supported by the majority of the medical community.

Treatment of this kind is life-saving, and its prevention should be fought against on all levels.

HB 1004:
This bill would prevent any future illegalizations on counseling aimed at “reducing, eliminating, resolving… unwanted same-sex attractions” and “sexual or gender-identity expressions.” These practices, commonly called conversion therapy, have been seen as entirely ineffective by the broader medical community for many years. The bill includes the use of conversion therapy on minors, a practice currently illegal in 20 states.

When the therapy is legal for children, homophobic and transphobic parents can force their children to undergo the brutal process. In this context, it’s hard to underestimate the amount of harm being done to young people through this supposed therapy.

Most young people are already in an incredibly vulnerable emotional state, and being LGBTQ+ in an unaccepting household only adds to this turmoil. When their identity is subject to direct attack in this form of therapy, existing anxieties can be exacerbated. The Human Rights Campaign links youth conversion therapy with depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness and suicide.

Not only should Oklahoma reject this bill, it should join the 20 civilized states who recognize the damage done by conversion therapy and ban it for minors.

HB 1648:
On a lighter note, this bill authored by Justin Humphrey (R) would establish a Bigfoot hunting season in Oklahoma, probably in October. Thankfully, the season doesn’t give the holder the right to kill Bigfoot; the goal is to trap him. Humphrey also hopes to give a $25,000 prize to whoever can trap Bigfoot.

Humphrey hopes the bill will bring in tourism for Oklahoma, meaning more revenue. His logic is solid, and it’s hard to find any real faults in the proposal. Regardless of the cryptid’s actual existence, the revenue and fun times that could come from the bill make it worth passing. For a Representative who has previously drafted legislation concerned with “tracking devices” in vaccines, this is a welcome shift.

Post Author: Justin Klopfer