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Proposed ban on gender transition procedures for minors gets hearing in Ohio House

 Felicia DeRosa leads a group of protesters in chanting outside the Ohio Statehouse. They are opposed to HB454 which would ban doctors from performing gender transition procedures for minors.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Felicia DeRosa leads a group of protesters in chanting outside the Ohio Statehouse. They are opposed to HB454 which would ban doctors from performing gender transition procedures for minors.

Supporters of a bill that bans gender transition procedures for minors testified at a House committee hearing, while LGBTQ advocates gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse to voice their opposition.

The bill, HB454, would prohibit physicians and other medical health care professionals from providing gender transition procedures to any person under 18-years-old. Those banned procedures would include prescribing medication – such as puberty blockers – and performing gender confirmation surgery.

“The primary part of this bill is to oppose medicalizing the transition for the child, which leads to irreversible damage,” said Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery), a co-sponsor of the bill, who added that there could be certain health risks involved with gender transition procedures. “We don't think that a child – and professionals have testified to that today – that a child is able to give informed consent to those things.”

LGBTQ advocates fired back at those claims and said the bill is an “extreme” government overreach into the personal lives of people and their families.

“Study after study has shown gender affirming care to be safe, effective, and supported by all major medical associations,” said Alana Jochum, Equality Ohio executive director. "Legislation like HB454 pedals false and misleading information about transgender young people and further stigmatizes an already marginalized group and their families."

Proponents offered support for the bill during a Thursday committee hearing. They often touted the legislation as a measure that prevented children from seeking gender transition procedures by circumventing their parents.

Just outside the statehouse hearing room window was a group of protesters gathered to voice their opposition to the bill.

That group included Felicia DeRosa, of Columbus, who said this type of legislation sends a message that transgender people like her are not valuable.

“What the legislature should do is mind their own business, and just make sure that health care is available for all who need it, in whatever capacity, and let the parents, let the families and the caregivers work together to figure out what that looks like for the individual,” said DeRosa, who added that transgender youth are already at a higher risk of mental health issues and suicidal ideations.

David Mahan, Center for Christian Virtue policy director, said the argument that the bill could increase mental health issues “would be based on a false premise that the only course of action for health is to stop their naturally-occurring puberty and to pump them with hormones that would not normally be present in their bodies at very high levels for a very long time.”

Mahan and other proponents mentioned the findings of a study in Sweden. Mahan said this research shows that gender transition procedures does not solve mental health issues.

But Equality Ohio pushed back and countered that the study did find that, while gender transition procedures “alleviate gender dysphoria,” other mental health issues remained. Equality Ohio said this study proved that transgender youth would be better served with additional resources and support.

The bill is expected to have more hearings, including opponent testimony, in the coming weeks.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.