House bill would ban gender reassignment surgery and medical treatments in Ohio
A bill that would make it illegal for minors to get puberty blockers or undergo gender reassignment surgeries has been re-introduced in the Ohio House.
Gary Click (R-Vickery) said he’s re-introducing his bill that is being called the "SAFE Act". It received hearings but didn’t pass last year. He said he's bringing it back because it is important to keep doctors in Ohio from doing gender reassignment surgery on or prescribing other gender altering treatments to anyone under 18 years old.
“This bill will save lives and that’s why we are doing this," Click said.
Click stressed this bill does not deny health or psychiatric care to transgender students - only surgeries and medications that could alter their bodies. He said 85-95% of the kids who feel they are trapped in the body of someone of the opposite gender outgrow that feeling as an adult but didn't cite a source for those numbers.
However, Click did invite Scott Newgent of Texas to testify about how he regrets undergoing transition surgery when he was 42 years old. Newgent, the founder of TReVoices, a group of trans educators who oppose allowing minors to undergo these treatments, said the surgeries and treatments have had a lasting effect on him.
"I underwent close to $1 million in surgeries and hormone therapies to change from Kellie to Scott, a trans man and I almost died in the process. And I certainly have cut many, many years off my life," Newgent said.
A Columbus woman, Ronli Moses, said she felt the medical professionals who dealt with her 14 year old son were putting pressure on her to allow transition surgery instead of dealing with the root problem.
"His mental health was ignored in lieu of a quick fix that in reality, fixes nothing on the inside which is where the problem lives," Moses said.
Moses said her son, who is a transgender man, did not end up going through the surgery. She said he is now an adult, going to college.
Click said his bill would also require medical providers to keep anonymous information that would serve as data for determining the future outcomes of the effectiveness of these treatments.
Click said this bill would also prohibit doctors from "aiding and abetting" by sending patients to other states for this treatment, but he was unclear on the details of the limits of that language.
"Basically it says you cannot aid or abet doing this damage to a young person. So anything that you are doing to take a young person, as a medical professional to a place where they are getting illegal hormone blockers, illegal hormones, or illegal surgery is considered aiding and abetting."
Equality Ohio’s Maria Bruno says that language is vague. She says this version of the bill seems even more draconian than the version Click sponsored last year.
"Our understanding is the medical limitations as well as the addition of some very vague language around aiding and abetting someone, which seems to be undefined in the context of the bill, so we have some things to research but this is definitely not a compromise."
The president of the Ohio Children's Hospital Association testified on the earlier version of the bill. And the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement in support of doctors supplying a wide range of care for transgender children, including drug therapies or surgeries.
Click rejects that, saying doctors who oppose this strategy are being pressured to stay quiet. Bruno said doctors need to be able to adhere to the best practices in medicine. She said this bill runs counter to those.
"What's so frustrating here is that medical best practices is directly contradictory to what is prescribed in this legislation which is a perfect example of why politicians should not be pretending to be doctors," Bruno said.
Bruno and Click both said they know young transgender kids often experience bullying. Bruno said this legislation does nothing to address that.
"This bill has the exact opposite impact of deterring bullying. All this does is further spread misinformation about how trans affirming medical care works in the first place and it makes transgender kids and their families feel like they are under attack," Bruno said.
Bruno said some families with transgender kids are now considering whether to move out of state if this bill passes.
The bill has just been introduced. While this bill didn't get hearings last time it was proposed, other bills dealing with trans kids did. So if past is prologue, this bill will likely generate a lot of testimony in future hearings.