An advocate for the rights of trans children and their parents holds up a sign. Photo by Morgan Trau, WEWS.
The following article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
Ohio Republicans Tuesday stopped their own bill from moving forward for this General Assembly, one that would severely limit health care for LGBTQ+ youth.
H.B. 454 was introduced by state Rep. Gary Click, a Republican from Vickery. It received national backlash following an OCJ/WEWS investigation that revealed the bill impacting the LGBTQ+ community was written without a basic understanding of the people it would impact and that the lawmaker had never spoken to any members of the trans community before authoring, introducing, or giving testimony on the bill.
“Representative Click has made the decision to hold off on HB 454,” the office of Click said. “He felt that it would be too much of a rush to get the bill through during lame duck and still get it right.”
In a packed hearing with two overflow rooms, dozens of opponents gathered to testify before Thanksgiving against House Bill 454, a bill that was set to ban gender-affirming care for minors. This includes puberty-blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and some mental health services.
Physicians, parents, transgender adults, trans kids and LGBTQ+ advocates all had the same mission: stop this bill. Tuesday evening, Equality Ohio and transgender activists like Cam Ogden are counting the delay as a win.
Unfortunately, Ogden says, it is likely to appear once the new year hits. Click’s team confirmed this.
“The bill will be back next GA because it is essential to protect our children from permanent medical risks,” a legislative aide said.
The bill got a facelift following the OCJ/WEWS investigation. Leaked to OCJ/WEWS, sub-H.B. 454 drastically changed the legislation. Instead of an outright ban on gender-affirming care for LGBTQ+ minors, the language has shifted to allow for more parental say and some exceptions.
Previously, it would prohibit gender-affirming care from trans and nonbinary youth, including hormone blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), medical or surgical procedures and some mental health services. Health care professionals who provide this care could lose their licenses and be sued. Public funding would be taken away from institutions that provide care for transgender young people. Insurance providers and Medicaid would not cover gender-affirming procedures for minors. The original bill would make counselors tell parents if the minor is having any thoughts related to their gender, which has opponents citing concerns for the child’s safety.
The bill now differentiates between different types of gender-affirming care, still prohibiting gender-confirmation surgery (referred to as “gender-reassignment surgery” in the text) for minors but appears to soften other guidelines, which Ogden reaffirms is not how she or other LGBTQ+ advocates see it.
The bill was also updated with a new provision that activists worry would create a type of registry for transgender kids.
Click’s take on the substitute bill
Click did not answer any of OCJ/WEWS’s questions but did respond to other reporters about the changes.
“They need to work through this to make sure this isn’t a phase, it’s not a social contagion,” he said.
The lawmaker said this was a “compromise” in hearing “both sides.”
“I heard all of these arguments before, so nothing, I didn’t hear anything new today,” he said. “And I’m so glad that they came because everyone has a right to be heard.”
Democrats are celebrating, with Minority House Leader Allison Russo (D-Columbus) saying the “decision to suspend any further movement this session on HB454 is a momentous victory for transgender children and their families.”
“I want to thank the brave family members, allies and medical professionals who testified before the committee for sharing their personal stories and evidence-based, scientific positions that clearly made an impact on the future of this bill,” she continued. “HB 454 blatantly ignores medical guidance and interferes with personal health care decisions that should be between children, families and their doctors. Ohio cannot be an opportunity state if we do not embrace our diversity and strive towards greater equality for all.”
OCJ’s Susan Tebben contributed to this article.
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