A bill that would block doctors from providing gender-affirming care to trans youth and prevent trans athletes from participating in Ohio women’s sports is going to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk.
The Ohio Senate passed House Bill 68 in a 24-8 vote Wednesday afternoon and the Ohio House concurred with the Senate amendments in a 61-27 vote Wednesday night. DeWine now has 10 business days to sign or veto the bill.
“We await a final bill to review before offering formal comment,” DeWine’s press secretary Dan Tierney said in an email Wednesday afternoon.
State Sen, Nathan Manning was the lone Republican who joined Senate Democrats in voting against the bill.
HB 68, introduced by Republican Rep. Gary Click would block doctors from providing gender-affirming care to trans youth, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy.
The bill would ban physicians from performing gender reassignment surgery on a minor, but many opponents have testified that no Ohio children’s hospital currently performs gender-affirming surgery on those under 18. An amendment was added to HB 68 Wednesday that added a grandfather clause that would allow doctors who already started treatment on patients to continue.
Gender-affirming care is supported by every major medical organization in the United States. Children’s hospitals across Ohio, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians all oppose HB 68.
House Minority Leader Allison Russo, a Democrat, said she hopes DeWine will listen to the medical professionals who oppose the bill.
“The bill is so cruel on so many levels but at the end of the day this violates parents rights to make decisions about their children’s own health care,” she said. “It’s putting the government in the middle of families and their health care providers.”
Twenty-two other states have passed a law that blocks gender-affirming care, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
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Gender-affirming surgery for minors is not common, with less than 3,700 performed in the United States on patients ages 12 to 18 from 2016 through 2019, according to a study published in August in JAMA Network Open. It’s unclear how many of those patients were 18 when they underwent those surgeries.
Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, a Republican, said the bill empowers parents.
“The important part is protecting children and making sure parents know what’s going on,” he said.
Democratic State Sen. Bill DeMora called HB 68 a disgusting piece of legislation.
“Current hospital policies ensure gender-affirming care for minors who seek it is safe, medically necessary, and appropriate,” DeMora said in a statement. “It’s clear that this bill is targeting youth already at an increased risk of suicide and violence, and subjecting them to even more risk.”
He took a moment to speak directly to transgender people during the Senate session.
“Your life has meaning and purpose,” DeMora said. “You are seen, valued and loved.”
Trans athlete ban
House Bill 6 — which prevents trans athletes from participating in Ohio women’s sports — was rolled into HB 68 back in June. The would prevent men and boys from playing on women’s sports teams, but everyone would still be able to play on co-ed teams.
There were only six transgender high school female student athletes in Ohio, the Capital Journal previously reported in the spring.
If a trans girl wants to play on a team with cisgender girls in Ohio, she must go through hormone treatments for at least one year or show no physical or physiological advantages, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Twenty-three states have passed similar laws in regards to transgender athletes since 2020, according to ESPN.
“It is two bills, so much for single subject,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio said.
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She sent a letter to senators urging them not to pass the bill on Monday.
“This bill strips rights away from parents and bans children’s access to evidence-based healthcare,” Antonio said in a statement after the bill passed the Senate. “Physicians need to be able to have comprehensive care discussions with patients and their families, but this bill puts them in an impossible position.
Hundreds of people submitted opponent testimony against the bill last week during a marathon Senate Government Oversight Committee meeting.
“We don’t make laws just for the hundreds of people that come and testify,” Senate President Matt Huffman said when asked about this. “We make laws for over 11 million people.”
Opponents speak out and protest
LGBTQ+ advocates who oppose HB 68 had a press conference Wednesday morning to speak out against HB 68 — arguing families shouldn’t have to decide whether it’s safe to stay in Ohio.
“Ohio is home and I will not be legislated to leave,” said Densil Porteous, executive director of Stonewall Columbus.
This bill will make it more challenging for trans and non-binary people, said Dara Adkison, a member of TransOhio.
“HB 68 will cause people to leave Ohio and no one should be forced from their home for any reason, but especially not because of extreme laws undermining their freedom and safety,” Adkison said.
Mallory Golski, the civic engagement and advocacy manager for Kaleidoscope Youth Center, spoke in place of a high school student who couldn’t attend the event because they had school tests to take.
“The people who this bill targets are teenagers,” Golski said. “They are young people who shouldn’t have to make a decision about whether they should show up to school or show up to the statehouse to convince lawmakers of their inherent dignity.”
She knows many transgender kids who are happier when they receive gender affirmation or care.
“Taking that away from trans minors would be a determinant,” Golski said.
Evangelical Lutheran deacon Nick Bates and father of a 13-year-old nonbinary child said bills like HB 68 force trans children and adults back into hiding.
“Sadly, HB 68 and other bills targeting trans and non-conforming youth take this peace, comfort and joy up the chimney like the Grinch stealing the Christmas tree,” Bates said.
Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.
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