OU Health ceasing some gender care after funds threatened

September 28, 2022 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The University of Oklahoma Medical Center confirmed Wednesday it is planning to stop offering some gender-affirming medical treatments after state lawmakers threatened to withhold millions of dollars in federal funding earmarked for the University Hospitals Authority.

The Republican-controlled Legislature, which returned for a special session on Wednesday to appropriate $1.87 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, has already targeted transgender young people with new laws that restrict their ability to play sports or use school bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Transgender medical treatment for children and teens is increasingly under attack in many Republican-led states, labeled child abuse and subject to criminalizing bans. But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.

“The OU Health Senior Leadership team is proactively planning the ceasing of certain gender medicine services across our facilities and that plan is already under development,” OU Health said in a statement.

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A spokeswoman for OU Health declined to say which specific services they would no longer offer.

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital at OU Health currently offers medical services related to gender identity for those up to age 24, including puberty blockers, gender-affirming hormone therapy and help finding surgeons who perform gender-affirming surgeries, according to its website.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt urged state lawmakers returning for the special session to consider eliminating the state’s grocery tax and cutting the state’s income tax rate as a way to provide inflation-related relief to Oklahomans. But those proposals appear to have little support in the state Senate, where leaders say they want to take a more measured approach to cutting taxes or overhauling the state’s tax code and consider the recommendations of a tax policy working group.

“Economists predict this recession is going to be durable and painful,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson said in a statement. “We have lived through years where we’ve had $1.3 billion shortfalls. We don’t want a repeat of those years. Looking at tax cuts holistically and taking a deliberate approach is the best way for us to do tax reform.”

The Legislature is expected to consider appropriating nearly all of Oklahoma’s share of $1.87 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for about 60 projects. Among the projects already approved by a joint legislative committee are grants for various water projects, health care, broadband infrastructure, workforce development, rural development and support of nonprofits.