Tri-C’s LAMDA Gender-Sexuality Alliance express concerns about new Ohio House Bill targeting Transgender Healthcare. 

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by Rhys Wright

On January 24th, 2024, the Ohio Senate voted as the house had, to override Governor DeWine’s veto of HB 68. HB 68 is a two-pronged piece of legislation, due to go into effect in April, and it focuses on Transgender youth and young adults. In the wake of DeWine’s veto, he also gave a speech announcing emergency rules to be put into place about Transgender healthcare for youth and young adults. The exact language and nature of these rules has yet to be released and public comment has ended.  

Some concessions were made in favor of no longer having the rules including restricting the healthcare of people over 18. This was due to the overwhelming number of comments submitted to the Department of Health. However, restrictions for minors and treatment centers are still hovering by to be put into place shortly. HB 68 and these emergency rules have caused a rise in uncertainty and fear among Ohioans.  

To understand these laws and worries about the nature of their execution, I spoke with LAMBDA President Maddie (She/Her) and had a small round table discussion with the group.  Our discussion with the group revolved around the name of the first part of HB 68 SAFE (Save Adolescents From Experimentation).  

I asked the group where the line is that divides experimentation from their own lives and medical care. One point that was brought up discussed left-handed people as a comparison to Transgender people.  The groups, surprisingly, have many similarities. For example, regarding population size (2% for trans and 10% for lefties) being a small portion of the public. The Transgender population and left-handed populations have grown as the stigmas surrounding them have lessened. Another example is that most believe or believed that childhood is where being Transgender or being left-handed can be put to a stop.  

These groups are also different in many ways as well. Left-handed people never inspired such legislation at the rate that we see politicians spewing out today. Nor did accusations of perversion and abuse follow lefties so vigorously.  

The group felt this bill and its language (printed copies were distributed among the group) was meant to rile up a political base rather than protect children. The group emphasized the lack of neutrality and medical data to back up the claims that the “General Assembly Hereby Found and Declared” at the end of the bill.  

One member, Valentine, wanted the reader of this article to recognize the line we all walk between ignorance and hate and how thoroughly she felt this bill wanted people to trip over themselves into hate. 

The interview with Maddie was enlightening as to the personal bravery and struggle this bill is making Transgender Ohioans have. 

R: My first question is how do you feel? Or rather what biases do you feel you have in this situation? 

M: I think we should be more open about the fact that people have biases as people are affected by the way they live their lives. In this case, since I am Trans, I don’t want trans healthcare to be restricted because that affects me. I think it becomes problematic when our bias makes us do things like restrict healthcare for a group of people, we feel we already know despite a lack of actual knowledge. 

R:  I also wanted to ask where you think the end goal of this legislation is. Does it stop at restricting healthcare for children and new rules about Athletics through to the college level? Or does it continue to the end of trans healthcare in America? Where will they draw the line? 

M: I would argue personally that it doesn’t even end with the restriction of trans healthcare, I think transgender people are a scapegoat for these people. It does not end at children it will continue through to 18-21 healthcare limited. Unnecessarily restrictive rules such as having a bioethicist involved in trans people’s health team even though that is an academic role.  

R: They state that they have found that “Suicide rates, psychiatric morbidities, and mortality rates remain markedly elevated above the background population after inpatient gender reassignment surgery has been performed.” Do you find that to be the case from a qualitative, perspective level? 

M: If we are talking about trans healthcare overall, I have never seen it make someone’s life worse. I can tell you that I felt so much better since starting my transition. My mental health has been substantially better. I felt like a proper person, in a way I haven’t felt since I was a child. 

R: One of the most concerning parts of the bill for me is that it places restrictions on mental health care for those under 18. Parents’ permission will be required to be treated or diagnosed for a gender-related condition. Gender Dysphoria is a DSM-5 diagnosis as well. What are your thoughts on this limitation on mental health care? 

M: I understand where people are coming from when protecting parents’ rights but at the same time it is akin to saying that children who suffer from abuse do not have a right to be treated for PTSD resulting from that. Or that the parent must approve a PTSD diagnosis. A diagnosis is a medical condition, and no other mental health issue has this much scrutiny on how it is treated. Not every trans youth has accepting parents, and they deserve to be treated for gender dysphoria if a doctor sees fit, especially in a mental health setting. 

R: What do you think is important for the Transgender population to hear right now? Take your time I know that is a big one. 

M: I guess I want to say it’s okay to be scared as hell right now. I have no idea when this will end if it ever does. I just know, and the solace I take is that I am on the right side of history. Every great evil in history has had the aim to crush the rights of oppressed peoples. It may be a struggle to keep our rights, but it is a struggle worth having. The people writing these bills need a force to fight them back. And that force must be us.

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