A report has claimed that residents in Oregon are only now finding out that the state allows teenagers as young as 15-years-old to get state-subsidized sex-change operations without parental notification.
"It is trespassing on the hearts, the minds, the bodies of our children," Lori Porter of Parents' Rights in Education told Fox News on Thursday. "They're our children. And for a decision, a life-altering decision like that to be done unbeknownst to a parent or guardian, it's mindboggling."
The report says that the policy, the first of its kind in the nation, was enacted in January, and that residents are "stunned" that the state will pay for such procedures through the Oregon Health Plan, its Medicaid program.
Jenn Burleton, the executive director of TransActive Gender Center in Portland, told KOIN 6 News that the Fox News report is "irrational" and "laughable," and argued that the policy does not mean that 15-year-olds can simply walk into a doctor's office and get sex-change surgery.
"The age of consent in Oregon has been 15 since 1971," Burleton asserted. "It would be a separate but equal implementation of it to say for all other physician-recommended or evidence-based medical care, youth in Oregon can access that at age 15 but for this one they have to wait longer."
The Oregon Health Authority explained its policy in a statement:
"In Oregon, the age of medical consent is 15 or older. Patients should be able to demonstrate the capacity to make a fully informed decision and to give consent to treatment, regardless of age. However, nothing in Oregon law requires a health care provider to provide medical services to a minor or safeguard the confidentiality of a minor. In most cases, providers will encourage (and in some cases require) family engagement and supports unless it would endanger the patient."
The decision to cover sex-change operations, which includes cross-sex hormone therapy, puberty-suppressing drugs and gender-reassignment surgery, was made by the Health Evidence Review Commission, and not state lawmakers.
The Fox report also includes a number of interviews with doctors who expressed worry over Oregon's policy, and some who argued that it amounts to child abuse.
"We have a very radical and even mutilating treatment being offered to children without any evidence that the long-term outcome of this would be good," said Dr. Paul McHugh, who led the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Department and still practices.
According to a 2003 study conducted in Sweden, transsexuals who change their gender through body mutilation or hormone therapy have a higher suicide rate than the general population.
The study, which followed 191 male-to-female gender reassignments and 133 female-to-male gender reassignments from 1973-2003, found that suicide attempts and in-patient psychiatric treatment actually increased in Sweden among those who had a sex change.
Regulations that force taxpayers to cover sex-change operations has stirred debate in the past as well. Back in December, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a new policy that will use state tax dollars to pay for such operations for New Yorkers who have been medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria disorder.
New York's $55 billion Medicaid program, the largest in the nation, is now expected to grow by nearly $6.7 million a year, according to state officials.
"This new regulation will guarantee transgender New Yorkers access to Medicaid-funded care, which is critical to safeguarding the principle of equal treatment. I am proud that the state is taking this step and continuing to lead the fight on transgender rights," Cuomo said back then.