Approximately 150 protesters occupied the Oklahoma state Capitol to protest against an age limit for transgender surgeries in the state, which was introduced in Bill SB129 in early January 2023.
The bill bans gender transition surgeries from being performed on anyone under the age of 26, stating that "a physician or other healthcare professional shall not provide gender transition procedures to any individual under twentysix (26) years of age."
Governor Kevin Stitt gave a public State of the State address, in which he stood firmly on the position, saying, "We must protect our most vulnerable — our children."
"After all, minors can’t vote, can’t purchase alcohol, can’t purchase cigarettes … we shouldn’t allow a minor to get a permanent gender-altering surgery in Oklahoma," the governor added.
Oklahomans for Equality and Freedom Oklahoma were two of the groups present at the protest, sporting signs that read messages such as "You can't erase us," and "Things Republicans fear: love, diversity and acceptance."
On the Capitol floor, protesters are seen chanting "trans live matter" as they present their signs.
The governor also asked legislators to ban hormone therapy for minors as well, exclaiming, "That’s why I am calling on the Legislature to send me a bill that bans all gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors in the state!"
In another video from the Capitol floor, protesters chanted, "We are Oklahoma!" with one protester's sign reading, "We are not a threat, so stop making us a target."
Other protesters wore spray-painted T-shirts with "Trans lives matter" and "Stop the attack" stenciled onto them.
Gov. Stitt categorized the debate as an issue of right and wrong, saying that he will not be intimidated or persuaded by interest groups.
"As governor, I will never shy away from calling out right from wrong. ... I will not be intimidated by partisan interest groups or make decisions based on groupthink," he declared.
"I will continue my responsibility to lead, not follow. ... I ran for this office five years ago because I was tired of seeing other states succeed while ours got left behind.," Stitt added.
According to the Daily Mail, activists called the state bill "genocide" and claimed that Oklahomans should be able to access transgender surgery no matter their age.
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