Hundreds protest at the historic Stonewall Inn. (Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
Adding to the criticism from the medical field about bills attempting to restrict transgender health and inclusion in Ohio, doctors Thursday expressed grave concerns about a bill that would ban trans youth from participating in their chosen sports.
During a press conference led by Democratic state representatives, Dr. Anita Somani held up a speculum, used for vaginal exams, as she explained the details of procedures that could be required of children if a coach, official or even a parent questions the gender of child on a sports team.
“It’s invasive and uncomfortable even for adults who have a trusting relationship with their physician,” Somani said.
She said the requirements in House Bill 151, the bill that would ban trans youth from sports and allow gender verification regulations, go beyond typical sports physical examinations would be “legally forcing children to undergo medically unnecessary exams.”
Dr. Patricia Goetz, a Summit County child and adolescent psychologist, said the treatment of children spelled out in the bill could cause “long-term negative impacts” to girls’ development, and actually cause more fear for girls, possibly deterring them from participating in sports.
“This would intensify a girl’s fear about her body,” Goetz said.
The bill may also add to already rising mental health struggles in girls and children in general, according to Goetz.
This is counter to arguments made by sponsors and supporters who pushed for the Ohio House to approve the bill in a late-night session last week. State Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, told her fellow representatives the bill was a “fairness” issue that sought to protect girls from having to compete against “biological males.”
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Jena Powell, R-Arcanum, also pushed on the issue, saying girls will have more validation if transgender competitors are removed.
“This bill ensures that every little girl who works hard to make it on a podium is not robbed of her chance by a biological male competing against her in a biological female sport,” Powell said last week.
Goetz and Somani are two more medical professionals that have spoken out against transgender restrictions currently being considered by the Ohio General Assembly.
Doctors from the state’s children’s hospitals urged an Ohio House committee to back off of House Bill 454, which would legislate the type of gender-affirming care that can and can’t be conducted by doctors in the state.
“Decisions regarding treatment of gender dysphoria should be left to parents and their adolescents in consultation with their health care providers,” Dr. Armand Antommaria, of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, told the committee on Wednesday.
Antommaria, fellow doctors and the leader of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association all explained the potential ramifications to doctor-patient relationships and parental power of choice with the bill’s language.
If passed, the bill could impact doctor’s licenses, and would restrict public funds for organizations who provide gender-affirming procedures. Insurance companies would also be prohibited from covering the procedures for minors, including Medicaid.
But with a Republican supermajority in the House and Senate, that bill could easily pass, even with the staunch opposition medical professionals and Democrats have given it and HB 151.
House Bill 151 was passed by the House last week, attached as an amendment to a bill on education mentorship. The Ohio Senate is set to consider the bill when it returns from summer break, and leadership has indicated they plan to take up the bill as passed by the House.
Overlooking the opinions of medical professionals is not new to Republicans who lead the Ohio legislature. Back in November as the House moved toward passing a bill barring schools and employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, health care associations publicly opposed the bill, including the American Cancer Society, hospitals and health insurers.
Medical professionals also opposed language in an anti-abortion bill that bans abortion if the nationwide legalization held in Roe v. Wade is overturned.
One hearing in the House Government Oversight Committee on the bill included three members of the American College of OB/GYN’s Ohio section, the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio, the Ohio State Medical Association and the Columbus Medical Association Board of Directors, all standing in opposition to the bill.
Dr. David Hackney, a maternal fetal medicine specialist, told the committee the risk of maternal death is about 14 times higher than the risks associated with abortion. Whatever the situation, he said, senators and representatives should not be the ones calling the shots in pregnancies.
“These difficult decisions should be entirely private decisions between the patient and her provider,” Hackney said. “There is no role for the legislature in these difficult decisions.”
Sponsors said should allow patients with ectopic pregnancies to have time to “emotionally prepare for the loss of a child,” something those in the medical field say could be life threatening to the pregnant person.
A pediatric physician herself, state Rep. Beth Liston, D-Dublin, tried to explain the urgency of an ectopic pregnancies, where an egg implants outside of the uterus, in terms of the health of the pregnant patient.
“At that time, the longer one waits before terminating the pregnancy, the more risk there is to a woman. And there’s no good outcome, there’s no live birth that’s resulting,” Liston told House Bill 598’s sponsor, state Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, during an April committee hearing on the bill.
Liston is also part of the Democratic movement against physical exams for transgender individuals wants to play youth sports. She and state Rep. Jessica Miranda, D-Forest Park, a sexual abuse survivor, led the discussion with Goetz and Somani on the damage the trans sports bill could do.
“Let me perfectly clear, this extreme legislation, which would require children to have genital exams to play high school sports is nothing short of state-sanctioned sexual abuse,” Miranda said.
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