OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led 21 attorneys general in opposing a state law in Oklahoma that severely blocks the ability of transgender youth to access critical, lifesaving gender-affirming care. The plaintiffs in Poe v. Drummond are suing to block Oklahoma’s Senate Bill (SB) 613, which restricts medical treatment for transgender minors seeking gender-affirming care. After the district court denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against SB 613, plaintiffs appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Today, the coalition, led by Attorney General Bonta, filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, arguing that Oklahoma’s ban on gender-affirming care violates equal protection and stressing the importance of gender-affirming care for the health and well-being of transgender youth.
“Gender-affirming care is safe and widely recognized as an effective way to support the mental and physical health of transgender youth,” said Attorney General Bonta. "We stand united in opposition to Oklahoma’s SB 613 aimed at undermining the health and well-being of transgender youth. Amidst the growing assault on LGBTQ+ rights nationwide, my office remains committed to ensuring equal and comprehensive medical care for everyone.”
Many transgender teens suffer from gender dysphoria, which results from the incongruence between their gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Gender dysphoria has been found to cause severe distress and anxiety, depression, fatigue, decreased social functioning, substance misuse, and a poorer quality of life. Among transgender people, suicide attempts are nine times more common than in the overall U.S. population. Those risks are even higher among transgender youth.
Oklahoma’s SB 613 seeks to block transgender youth’s access to medical treatment such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers that help treat gender dysphoria.
In their amicus brief today, the coalition supported the plaintiffs' lawsuit seeking to block the enforcement of SB 613, arguing that the law:
- Significantly harms the health and lives of transgender people by denying them medically necessary care that protects their physical, emotional, and psychological health.
- Is discriminatory and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by banning medical treatment for transgender youth based on their gender identity.
- Fails to recognize how inclusive laws and policies — such as those in California — have benefited transgender individuals.
- Does not satisfy heightened scrutiny because a complete ban on medically necessary healthcare is not substantially related to Oklahoma's asserted interests.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ youth:
- In October, Attorney General Bonta secured a ruling from the San Bernardino Superior Court enjoining Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. The Court held that such disclosure policies are likely to violate transgender and gender nonconforming students’ right to equal protection under the California Constitution and can result in irreparable harm to those students. Attorney General Bonta had previously secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the policy. The Superior Court’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General challenging the enforcement of CVUSD’s forced outing policy. Prior to filing the lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta opened a civil rights investigation into the legality of the CVUSD’s adoption of the policy. Prior to opening the investigation, Attorney General Bonta in July sent a letter to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education cautioning them of the dangers of adopting the forced outing policy and explaining that the policy potentially infringed on students' privacy rights and educational opportunities.
- Attorney General Bonta has issued statements following Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District, Rocklin Unified School District, Anderson Union High School District, and Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley Unified School District Boards’ decision to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policies targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming students.
- In October, Attorney General Bonta joined a multistate amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the rights of transgender students in Doe v. Mukwonago Area School District, challenging a Wisconsin school board’s policy barring an 11-year-old transgender student from using the girls’ restroom based on her sex assigned at birth.
- In October, Attorney General Bonta joined a multistate amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of plaintiffs in Doe v. Horne, challenging Arizona’s recently-enacted legislation prohibiting transgender students from participating on women’s and girls’ school athletic teams.
- In September, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition of 20 attorneys general in opposing a state law in Indiana that severely blocks the ability of transgender youth to access critical, lifesaving gender-affirming care.
- In August, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief opposing state laws in Kentucky and Tennessee restricting transgender youths' access to critical and lifesaving healthcare.
- In June, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition in support of the Ludlow School Committee’s efforts to create a safe and supportive environment for transgender children and all students.
- In May, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in supporting a challenge to a Florida rule restricting access to gender-affirming care and joined another multistate coalition defending a Colorado law that prohibits gay and transgender conversion therapy on children and youth.
Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.