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Clay and Buck

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Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt Vows to Protect Kids from Child Abuse

7 Feb 2023

CLAY: There’s a battle, a brouhaha going on right now out in the state of Oklahoma over trans treatments for young children. The governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, joins us now. Governor, appreciate the time. I know you’re in the middle of a battle out there. What is so controversial? You walk me through this. You can’t get a tattoo most places ’til you’re 18. You can’t drink a beer ’til your 21. You can’t rent a car ’til you’re 25. Why is it controversial to say, especially for minor kids, that they can’t have gender reassignment surgery? What’s this battleground like and why is it even a battleground at all?

GOV. STITT: Well, first off, it’s pretty common sense to us. We don’t think it should be controversial. We’re really just trying to protect kids. We’re not trying to go against any person. But we do not believe, like you said, that a minor that can’t buy alcohol, can’t buy cigarettes, can’t get a tattoo, should go in and have a permanent gender altering surgery. It just makes no sense at all. So, I’ve called the legislature to ban that. And then you’ve got some you’ve got some folks that are, I don’t know, you ought to have them on there, why they think that’s a good idea to do this to minors. But you have a few protesters coming out, but, overwhelmingly, Oklahomans support this, and we’re gonna get it across the finish line.

BUCK: Governor Stitt, it’s Buck. Thanks for being with us. It seems that there’s a number of bills, right, that are out there, and there’s a lot of attention paid to Senate Bill 129, the Millstone Act, and that would have a ban on gender reassignment for those under 26. I’m just wondering, is it already clear which one of these bills is the one that will get through the legislature? Basically, which one are you going to sign?

GOV. STITT: Yeah, well, first off, I’m going to sign whichever one goes to my desk. But I’m working with the leadership of the House and the Senate. We think the cleanest way is just, say, 18 years old. There’s a thought to go to 21, but it’s very clear that anybody under the age of 18, we need to protect those young people. And listen, these are elective surgeries. We don’t want tax dollars to go to these types of surgeries. If you want to do this and it’s elective surgery after you’re an adult, that’s one thing.

But again, we have a responsibility to protect our young people, protect our children, and we’re going to do it. I mean, this is the only type of surgery that, you know, somebody can come in to a doctor, self-diagnose themselves and also prescribe the surgery that they want. And we just think that type of surgery should be left to an adult after your brain is fully developed. And there’s all kinds of studies that kind of back that up, that kids, you’re not able to make that decision at that point. So, let’s just wait ’til you’re an adult and you want to go do that surgery as an adult. So that’s —

BUCK: I’m just wondering, Governor, in your state, in Oklahoma, what is the current procedure? Is there one for, you know, because this law obviously would address this, but prior to this law, or previous to this law’s signature and going into effect, was there some baseline number of visits? Is there some number of different professionals? Like, basically, for a minor to have transgender surgery as it exists right now in Oklahoma, is there any defined process or is it just up to the individual medical practitioner?

GOV. STITT: Well, that was the case. There was actually a clinic that we discovered in one of our big university hospitals that was performing these types of surgeries. And so, they were, you know, basically promoting it. Or people that were coming in and they could do these permanent altering surgeries there. And so, I did an executive order last year to stop that from taxpayer dollars being used, and then I asked the legislature to codify that into law this year. But not a ton had been done. So again, this is a very, very small minority of folks. And again, we’re not against any one person. And we believe in freedoms and personal responsibilities, but we have a duty to protect young people. And that’s what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about kids that are under the age of 18. And that’s what I’m calling for in the legislation this year in Oklahoma.

CLAY: Where has this come from, Kevin? I mean, you’re a governor, but let’s just step it back. Like, you’re also a dad. I’m a dad. We’ve got young kids. You’re around my age. You grew up, like there were people who were tomboys, right? Like 7-,  8-year-old girls you met. I mean, we had, I’ve coached Little League baseball. We’ve got girls playing on the teams. This idea that you should be treating kids who suddenly say at 8 years old, like, “I’m in the wrong body” or “We’re going to delay puberty,” we’re going to take, I mean, literally take off some of their organs in an effort to make them a different gender. This is all way more substantial than where the transgender universe began, which, as you mentioned, is, “Hey, I’m an adult and I decided as an adult to make these choices.” Where is this (audio drop) force of child treatment coming from? And are you as stunned to see it sweep the country as both Buck and I have been, and many of our listeners are as well?

GOV. STITT: I mean, listen, I mean, people that are coming out of the woodwork, the left just continues to move further and further away from mainstream. And what is normal and reasonable and righteous. And so, again, I can’t tell you where it’s coming from, but what I can tell you that people are starving. The most people around in America that we talked to, they’re starving for people to talk about traditional family values. They’re starving for people to talk about putting focus back on the family. And, again, this isn’t against any one person.

But to us, it’s just common sense that we’re going to protect our young people in the state of Oklahoma. We don’t think that should be controversial. But again, you’re going to have a few people complain, you know, if your ice cream’s too cold. So, you’ve always got these fringe folks that are going to come complain about something. And so, we’re going to move forward with this. It’s the right thing to do. And Oklahomans, overwhelmingly support me. And I think most Americans think that we need to protect minors as well.

BUCK: We’re speaking to Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma. Governor, there was that protest that made its way inside the capitol. Were there any arrests? And I’m just wondering if your expectations are that these kinds of protests in and around the capitol are likely to continue?

GOV. STITT: You know, there were no arrests. And, for the most part, I mean, they screamed and hollered a little bit, but they had a permit to protest on the second floor. They moved up to the fourth floor. So, when I was going out to deliver my State of the State address, you know, they were screaming some profanities at me. But anyway, no big deal. It wasn’t like they tore anything up or broke into the capitol, or anything like that.

But our police had it all under control. And I mean, in Oklahoma, we’re going to arrest you if you get out of control in Oklahoma. So, they immediately said, “Hey, you’re going? We’re arresting you.” They only had permission to be on the second floor if they didn’t quiet down. So, everybody immediately started quieting down. But we had a great show of force and we got our, you know, our great highway patrol. We’re all over that situation. And there was never any danger for the citizens of the state of Oklahoma or the capitol.

CLAY: We’re talking to the governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt. Kevin, shifting gears off of the transgender issue, we just had a Chinese spy balloon float all over the entirety of the United States. Now, I don’t believe it came through Oklahoma airspace, but one of the things Buck and I talked —

GOV. STITT: It would have been shot down if it was in Oklahoma.

CLAY: So, I mean, so that’s my, quite honestly, that’s my question for you. I said if I had been the governor of Tennessee and I think it kind of skirted Tennessee and, you know, it went out to South Carolina, North Carolina, whatever. Okay. Let’s say that you are the governor of Oklahoma and let’s say that another Chinese spy balloon comes into the United States again, which given what happened once, I mean, why would we not think they might do it again? Can you, as the governor of Oklahoma, shoot this thing down? I mean, did you ask your team? Like, we haven’t ever really, to my knowledge, had a situation like this. It’s without precedent. But the argument that I made on the radio show is if it’s in a state airspace and if the governor wants to call out the state guard or someone that he’s in charge of, could you shoot down that spy plane, that spy balloon? Would you have done it? I mean, what should happen there? What should a governor do?

GOV. STITT: Well, first off, you know, I say that tongue in cheek a little bit. But absolutely, this was so frustrating for, I know, my Republican governor colleagues around the country. When we first saw that coming, we got on the phone, we got briefed by the DOD and the White House on this issue and why it wasn’t ever shot down before it made into U.S. airspace is a head-scratcher. And I did call my National Guard. I called my commander. I’m the commander in chief of the Oklahoma National Guard. And so, I was talking to him. If it did make it down here, what we’ve got an F-15, F-16s in our Tulsa National Guard.

And so, we had those conversations. Obviously, that’s a bigger conversation that we would need to have with the Department of Defense. But like every American, you know, and my job is to protect the citizens of Oklahoma with our National Guard. But that’s a huge, huge issue that we obviously would be in consultation with the big army. But I guess the real question we need to ask ourselves is, how did we let it get into the airspace of the United States? And that’s really the question that needs to be answered. And if the Pentagon did not brief the president, which I’ve heard they didn’t, I think heads need to roll there as well.

CLAY: Pentagon didn’t brief Trump or didn’t brief Biden on this?

GOV. STITT: Didn’t brief Biden. If they didn’t brief Biden until it was already inside the U.S. airspace then that’s a big problem. But, yes, the president needed to make decisions before that thing came all across our continental United States.

BUCK: And, Governor Stitt, what do you make of the reports that, “Oh, there were a bunch of balloons under Trump, too, but no one told Trump,” or something like that?

GOV. STITT: Oh, I don’t believe that at all. I mean, I know President Trump and there’s no possible way he would have let that happen. And so, we do not believe that there were spy balloons here in the continental U.S. under Trump.

CLAY: All right, much less serious, but I saw that Americans are going to wager — I don’t know if you’ve seen this story. Americans are going to wager more money on the Super Bowl than Iran spends every year on its entire defense department. So, we got the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles. I know you’re a big sports fan. Who’s going to win and why?

GOV. STITT: I’m going to go with the Chiefs. Mahomes. I really like Mahomes. Now Hurts has a little connection to Oklahoma. He quarterbacked at the University of Oklahoma.

CLAY: But you’re an Oklahoma State cowboy, so I don’t know if you want to back an OU guy.

GOV. STITT: I am an Oklahoma State cowboy. But, you know, when a local boy does well, you want to root for him, too. But Mahomes, I watched him play when he was at Texas Tech. And as a Big 12 guy, he’s just been amazing.

CLAY: Good stuff, Governor. Well, we appreciate your the fight you’re fighting out there over this, what seems like quite simple, child abuse bill to try to protect kids out there. And hopefully if the Chinese spy balloon comes through the state of Oklahoma, you can take it out and come on and talk about it with us.

GOV. STITT: Oh, that’d be pretty cool. Well, listen, keep talking truth out there. Americans love you guys, so keep it going.

CLAY: Thank you so much, Governor.

GOV. STITT: Okay. Thank you. Bye-bye.

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