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Trans advocates still against Ohio's draft rules on youth transition treatment

Trans Allies of Ohio sign at the Ohio Statehouse
Sarah Donaldson
Statehouse News Bureau
Trans Allies of Ohio sign at the Ohio Statehouse

About a dozen Ohioans testified Monday morning against some of the state’s draft rules regarding transition treatments and other gender-affirming care for children and teens that were introduced at Gov. Mike DeWine’s request.

Under the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ proposed code changes, doctors and other health caregivers could only diagnose and treat transgender patients in contract with an integrated care team of physicians and psychiatrists. The agency issued revised rules in February, clarifying that they would only affect minors and extending what professionals could serve on that care team.

Still, 14 community advocates and social workers at the hearing said the revisions didn't change their minds. Some asked for further tweaks, while others voiced wanting them rescinded all together.

Equality Ohio Policy Fellow Cam Ogden said although she feels the agency heard her and others out and made changes, she's still worried about the final version.

“The Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services are currently treating trans people like we're a public health threat,” Ogden said after the hearing. “That's what these rules seem like they're meant to address. Transgender people are not a public health threat and we don't need to be addressed that way.”

Equitas Health only treats patients who are 18 and older, but Oliver Licking, a member of the external affairs team, testified against the rules because he said trans youth in Ohio will eventually become their adult patients.

Licking is wary of even the revisions. “It’s like, ‘Look, we’re trying to work with the community, we’re not actually trying to restrict care,’” he said after the hearing.

OMAS, ODH rules would be in addition to new law

The rules are entirely independent of House Bill 68, which blocks trans minors from access to gender-affirming care and from participating in girls’ athletics.

In addition to surgeries, HB 68 bars physicians from prescribing hormones and puberty blockers to minors and creates penalties for those who do. The bill also mandates that K-12 and collegiate teams in Ohio be “single-sex” and enables athletes to bring forth civil lawsuits against any institution that violates that mandate.

DeWine vetoed the legislation in late December 2023 and asked for these administrative draft rules to be proposed. But by the end of January, the GOP-majority legislature overrode that veto. HB 68 will take effect in a little more than a month, barring litigation.

The ACLU of Ohio said in January it would sue over HB 68. It has yet to file that lawsuit, but lobbyist Sean McCann said Monday it will before the bill’s effective date.

“Our legal team is continuing to kind of do their due diligence that always goes into the work of building the lawsuit,” McCann said after the hearing.

At the same time, the Ohio Department of Health is mulling draft rules that regulate data gathering of transgender Ohioans, which have faced similar blowback from advocates.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at