(The Center Square) – Restricting doctors and hospitals from providing gender transition treatments for minors in Oklahoma has been upheld by a federal judge.
Senate Bill 613, passed by lawmakers in April, would fine health care providers who performed the services up to $100,000. Providers also face a prison sentence of up to 10 years, according to the bill.
Five families and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state over the bill, saying it violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
U.S. District Court Judge John F. Heil III said the bill did not violate the 14th Amendment because it didn’t ban gender transition procedures outright.
“Nor is it a bill that has the intent or effect of enforcing stereotypical gender norms or discriminating against those who do not conform to those norms,” Heil said in the 36-page decision. “Instead, SB 613 requires only that, to the extent an individual desires to utilize certain physiological procedures to treat the psychological condition of gender dysphoria, he or she must wait until a certain age to do so.”
The ACLU of Oklahoma said the ruling is “not the end.”
“Denying transgender youth equality before the law and needlessly withholding the necessary medical care their families and their doctors know is right for them has caused and will continue to cause serious harm,” the organization said in a joint statement with Lambda Legal and the law firm Jenner & Block. “We are appealing this decision that is completely out of step with all other federal trial courts and that ignores the overwhelming evidence that gender-affirming medical care is safe and effective evidence-based care.”
Gov. Kevin Stitt said he was pleased with the decision.
“Here in Oklahoma, we protect our kids. Plain and simple,” Stitt said.