Watch a previous NBC4 report on HB 68 in the video player above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A bill that would ban various medical procedures for transgender or non-binary minors in Ohio drew strong public reaction on Wednesday, including from parents and top healthcare providers.
House Bill 68 — the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act” — would bar healthcare professionals from providing treatment known as gender-affirming care to trans children in the state. Rep. Gary Click reintroduced the bill in February after the legislation failed to pass Ohio’s General Assembly last year.
“What we’re just simply saying is, let kids grow up,” said Click. “Children are incapable of providing the informed consent necessary to make those very risky and life-changing decisions.”
The bill states mental health professionals must screen patients for abuse and comorbidities before diagnosing gender dysphoria. In addition, mental health professionals are required to report data outlining the number of minors treated for a “gender-related condition” each year.
However, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other major medical providers said gender-affirming care is an evidence-based practice with a proven track record of improving health outcomes for trans youth. The Ohio Children’s Hospital Association previously called the bill a “misguided effort” that could exacerbate harm to LGBTQ+ youth.
Opponents testify during Wednesday’s hearing
More than 170 opponents of the bill submitted testimony for the third hearing on Wednesday, with several Ohioans testifying in person for the Public Health Policy Committee before adjournment at 12:30 p.m. The bill’s second hearing last month saw 18 supporters submit testimony.
Patty Manning-Courtney, a developmental pediatrician for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, testified she has provided care for patients with a medical diagnoses of gender dysphoria. Manning-Courtney said no Ohio children’s hospital performs gender-affirming surgery on patients under the age of 18.
“Parental consent is required for gender-affirming medical care,” said Manning-Courtney. “There is strong support for the essential role parents play in making decisions on behalf of their children in school, in healthcare, or anywhere else. This legislation, however, presumes that parents do not know what is best for their child and that legislators know better.”
Manning-Courtney affirmed that gender-affirming medical care for adolescents is only initiated following a “careful and comprehensive assessment,” including a rigorous mental health assessment and screening for comorbidities.
She said many minors in children’s hospital clinics have never been prescribed gender-affirming medication, and when they are, the average time from first visit to starting hormones is 10 to 12 months. Medications that pause puberty are reversible, she said, and puberty will resume when they are stopped.
Ann Becker, vice-chair of her county Republican Party Central Committee, testified she has a trans son who received treatment at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Becker displayed a text from her son that said, “I’m scared about the trans genocide. Are they gonna put me in a camp?” Becker said HB 68 is attempting to strip away the freedom of parents and doctors to make medical decisions for their own children.
“It’s none of your business,” said Becker. “With a bucket of respect for all of you, what I do with my child is none of your business.”
Giles Roblyer, director and assistant general counsel at The Procter and Gamble Company, also said he has a trans child. Roblyer called HB 68 an “abrogation of conservative, libertarian principles” and said the bill asserts the authority of the state to make medical decisions for children instead of parents.
“Social transition and pausing puberty is safe and reversible and leads to better mental health outcomes in kids like mine with persistent and consistent gender dysphoria instead of letting my child go through the irreversible changes of puberty, or in other words actively disaffirming his gender,” said Roblyer.
Rick Colby, another parent of a trans child, said his son has felt he was masculine since he was age five. For years he tried to be a young women, he said, but that didn’t ease his sadness and it was only until he was able to transition to a young man that he saw “light in his eyes turn back on.”
“The people wanting to ban gender-affirming care have no idea what it is like to be transgender or to have a transgender child,” said Colby. “This is not something that is done on a whim.”
Carey Callahan, Bainbridge resident, testified they are a detransitioned woman who had to move out of Ohio to access gender-affirming care. Callahan said they have experienced the circumstances trans people often endure, like being belittled and humiliated in medical contexts.
“I am begging you to stop referencing detransitioners such as myself as a justification for attacking trans healthcare and trans people,” said Callahan. “You aren’t protecting children from becoming a detransitioner like me. You are exiling good people from our state, traumatizing kids and families, and working hard to make Ohio a less safe place to raise kids.”
HB 68 will receive a fourth hearing in June for additional testimony.