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'Trans kids go through even more,' Greater Dayton LGBTQ Center talks medical care restrictions

Rick Flynn, Executive Director of the Greater Dayton LGBT
Ngozi Cole
Rick Flynn, Executive Director of the Greater Dayton LGBTQ Center

In January, the Ohio Senate passed a law that restricts medical care for transgender youth and bans transgender girls from women's sports. WYSO’s Ngozi Cole interviewed Rick Flynn, executive director of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center, about how to support transgender youth in light of this.

This interview is lightly edited for length and clarity.

Rick Flynn: I am afraid it's going to get worse before it gets better. I tend to look at history over a long lens, so I think that while it is going to get worse before it gets better, I think it will ultimately get better. I think right now we're seeing a political climate where people are choosing extremes to get behind, and I think that's all part of this. I think it's all part of just a political game to get voters out. And it's sad really, because, you know, you're talking about people's lives. It's not a soundbite for the evening news or a campaign slogan. These are people's lives that are being affected.

Ngozi Cole: For people who have heard about the ban, but they didn't know what it means, and it doesn't really affect them, can you just explain what the ban is  and then why the response to it is so urgent?

Rick Flynn: Basically, it's stopping youth from receiving gender affirming care. From what I understand, it's not stopping people who are currently in care, but it's stopping new kids from getting care. And I think we look at the suicide rates among LGBTQ plus kids, and that in itself is alarming. And then you add trans kids in that mix, it becomes really scary. We're afraid of what we don't understand. And I think when people don't understand an issue like transgender rights or affirmative care, it's easy to be afraid of that. It's easy to dismiss it. But I think if you get to know someone who is transgender or any one of the LGBTQ plus individuals, you'll find out we're just people. We're just people like everybody else, and we want the same things. And we're not asking for anything special just the same.

Ngozi Cole: In terms of the urgency of that maybe immediate care that one person might need, what might be that immediate support available?

Rick Flynn: Right now, I think it's emotional. I think it's going to be, just letting kids know they still matter, because laws like this basically tell you you don't matter. And kids go through enough and trans kids go through even more. And so I think as long as we as adults can continue to let them know they matter. And although this may feel like the end of the world, this is temporary and we will get it fixed. We'll get the right people in office, we'll fight the fight and we'll do what we've always done. It's just these are the things that make us stronger and build us as a community, because we have to get out there and we have to fight for what's right.

Ngozi Cole: The center has received calls from parents. What are they asking about in terms of available support out there? 

Rick Flynn: They're asking what this all means. And I think we're all still trying to figure that part out. We have more parents calling and asking what they can do for their kids right now. So I know, some people are putting together some town halls and different things of that nature to kind of help people come in and talk and get their frustrations out and maybe find some resources. We send a lot of people to some really good organizations. The Gatlin Dahm Group is a transgender group that meets here once a month. PFLAG Dayton is also a wonderful resource. So there are a lot of resources out there to kind of help, but I think everybody is right now trying to figure out what that help is.

Ngozi Cole:  You're currently working with parents, but how can other people be supportive and be allies right now? 

Rick Flynn: They can give us a call or visit our website and take a look at the different resources we have. If they want to volunteer, they can do that. That's always welcome, just to mobilize people to get out there and do more of the action on the streets. So there's a lot of ways to get involved, and it's just finding out about, you know, different groups. Gem City Action is a great group. They're out there, trying to figure out a game plan as a lot of people are right now, figuring out a game plan on what's next. What do we do next?

Ngozi Cole is the Business and Economics Reporter for WYSO. She graduated with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York and is a 2022 Pulitzer Center Post-Graduate Reporting Fellow. Ngozi is from Freetown, Sierra Leone.