OU health facilities to suspend ‘certain gender medicine services’

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Medical institutions tied to the University of Oklahoma have agreed to halt what they describe as “certain gender medicine services” in response to pressure from state lawmakers.

OU Health released a statement on Tuesday saying it would halt services after lawmakers threatened to withhold up to $108.5 million in federal funding for the Oklahoma-based Teaching Hospitals Authority and Hospitals Trust. , reported Tulsa World.

Lawmakers have made stopping “medical sex reassignment treatment” for children under 18 a stipulation for medical facilities to receive funds from the US federal bailout law. The law allocated approximately $39.4 million to a children’s behavioral health hospital in Oklahoma City.

“The funding will modernize our technical infrastructure, bring cancer care to the level of the National Cancer Institute in northeast Oklahoma, and enable us to provide the nation’s most advanced hospital and outpatient resources for young people. who need mental and behavioral health care,” OU Health quoted Tulsa World as saying.

“The Legislature limited the use of funds for the benefit of facilities providing certain gender medicine services. The new Mental and Behavioral Health Facility was never intended to provide such care.”

The statement adds that “OU Health’s leadership team is proactively planning to shut down certain gender medicine services at our facilities and that plan is already in the works.”

It’s not immediately clear what “gender medicine services” OU Health has offered and what it will discontinue.

The Oklahoma Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has denounced efforts to condition funding on stopping body mutilating sex reassignment procedures and other gender identity clinic services, such as cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers.

ACLU Oklahoma Policy Director Cindy Nguyen said in a statement Tuesday that the effort was an attack on the “bodily autonomy” of LGBT people.

“Transgender youth are part of Oklahoma and they deserve the same privacy, access to treatment, and evidence-based health care from qualified medical professionals as any other Oklahoman,” Nguyen said. .

“This legislation displays fundamental ignorance about the medical treatment of transgender youth and undermines the current recommendations of all major medical associations.”

The Oklahoma legislature is considering a bill that would bar anyone under the age of 21 from having sex reassignment surgeries in Oklahoma.

State Sen. Warren Hamilton, who introduced the bill in the 2021 legislative session but was never heard from, expressed concern about the long-term effects of experimental treatments like puberty blockers and reassignment surgeries.

“My concern is that these procedures and transitions are life changing, and this decision should not be made by those who cannot see the long-term effects of such treatments,” Oklahoma-based Fox 25 quoted Hamilton as saying. City. .

“The problem is that once they become adults, these operations and the effects of hormones simply cannot be undone. My legislation will help safeguard the physical and mental health of a young person who may not fully understand the ramifications lifetime of these treatments and surgeries.”

There has been much national debate in recent years around the ethics of prescribing puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones to children with gender dysphoria, although organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics endorse this practice.

The use of puberty-blocking drugs has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to delay puberty in children with gender dysphoria. Some doctors warn that the use of drugs for this purpose should be considered experimental because the long-term effects have not been thoroughly studied.

Critics accuse the American Academy of Pediatrics of silencing debate on the issue and ignoring evidence from studies that have led some European countries to impose more restrictions on medical transitions for minors.

AAP President Moira Szilagyi argues that the AAP “advises pediatricians to provide developmentally appropriate care that is oriented toward understanding and appreciating the gendered experience of the young person.”

In its policy statement, “Ensuring comprehensive care and support for transgender and gender-diverse children and adolescents,” the AAP states that the decision to “initiate gender-affirming treatment is personal and involves careful consideration of the risks, benefits and other factors unique to each patient and family.”

Earlier this month, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health removed a section from its guidelines on the minimum age for children to get puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or undergo bodily surgeries.

Amy Tishelman, the author of the “Child” chapter in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health 8th Edition Standards of Care guidelines, told WPATH’s annual conference that age guidelines for hormones and “gender-affirming” surgeries have been removed to protect doctors from liability.

“What we didn’t want to do was create a chapter that would make it more likely that practitioners would be sued for not following exactly what we were saying,” she said.

Several detransitioners – people who transitioned to the opposite biological sex and then returned after a regret – spoke of how they felt misled or unable to understand the potential consequences of surgical and hormonal transitions in adolescence and youth. adults.

CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired the stories of detransitioners in a segment earlier this year, prompting considerable pushback from transgender rights groups.

“I wasn’t pushed back enough on the transition. I went on two dates and after the second one I got my letter to go get cross sex hormones,” said a young man by the name of Garrett of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. To display.

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