Growing up can be confusing, especially if you're a kid in Oregon. You can't drive a car until 16. You can't leave home until 18. And if a new bill passes the state legislature, you can't pick up a pack of cigarettes until 21.
But Oregon offers one state perk long before any of those other milestones. With or without parental permission, the state subsidizes gender reassignment surgery starting at age 15. To reiterate, kids can change their sex with help from the taxpayer, but soon many adults won't be able to buy smokes.
The pending legislation perfectly demonstrates the skewed double standard of the Left. There's a sliding scale of responsibility in Oregon and it's calibrated specifically to liberal pieties.
Ostensibly to keep the state healthy, the smoking bill rests on the premise that young adults are too foolish to make good decisions about their bodies. "One of the best things we can do in Oregon to prevent disease," said Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, "is to stop people from using tobacco." Or put another way, limiting choice is necessary to eliminate the danger.
But while Oregon lawmakers won't let adults light up, they'll pay for kids to change gender. Suddenly public health interests go out the window in Salem. The state's Medicaid program bows blindly in front of the personal autonomy of high school freshman still too young to drive.
Never mind the risks of going under the knife and the fact that there's no real chance to go back once the change is complete. Disregard the parental concerns of the families who will care for these children. And completely ignore evidence, like this UCLA study, showing that transgender kids are at a higher risk for suicide after surgery.
No matter the risks and regardless of parental rights, Oregon lets impressionable children identify however they choose. They won't let voting-age adults identify as the Marlboro man. The nanny state has officially run amok.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.