This article originally appeared in the Buckeye Flame
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Ohio House Bill 68, currently in the state Senate, would criminalize healthcare for transgender youth, ban transgender girls from competing in sports and reject the global medical consensus of millions of doctors.

During nearly eight hours of public testimony at the Ohio Statehouse, doctors and healthcare professionals begged members of the Ohio Senate Government Oversight Committee to reject House Bill 68

The bill — which would criminalize healthcare for transgender youth and ban transgender girls from competing in sports from kindergarten through college — is set to receive a committee vote on Wednesday December 13 at 9 a.m. If lawmakers vote in favor of the bill, it will likely receive a full senate vote the same afternoon.

The bill contradicts the general medical consensus of millions of doctors and mental healthcare professionals across the globe, including nearly 600,000 doctors across the United States.

Gender-affirming healthcare is supported by every leading world healthcare authority — including the World Health Organization (WHO), the technical health agency of the United Nations, which provides healthcare to hundreds of millions of people in 194 countries.

Pediatric doctors beg lawmakers to reject bill

Overwhelmingly, doctors, researchers and mental health professionals agree that gender-affirming healthcare is best medical practice for transgender youth, and that each patient’s care plan requires a multidisciplinary effort that includes both the young person’s entire healthcare team and their parents or guardians.

Nick Lashutka, president and CEO of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Associationprovided public testimony in opposition to the bill, alongside the Dr. Steve David of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and Dr. Shefali Mahesh of Akron Children’s Hospital.

Representing a coalition that includes Akron Children’s HospitalDayton Children’sUniversity Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s HospitalNationwide Children’s and Cincinnati Children’s, Lashutka outlined statistics regarding transgender youth who receive care via the hospital association’s gender-affirming healthcare clinics.

“We do not perform any surgeries on minors for the condition of gender dysphoria,” Lashutka told lawmakers. “Each patient undergoes a rigorous mental health assessment to determine if these clinics are even the right place for them.”

“Of the 2.6 million children living in Ohio, around one third of the individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria begin medical treatment under the age of 18. This is 0.0003 percent of the population of minors in Ohio,” he told lawmakers — fewer than 800 young people across the entire state.

In over 10 years, Lashutka said Ohio’s children’s hospitals have served approximately 3,300 individuals whose first appointment at a gender clinic took place when they were under age 18. 

Of those 3,300 individuals, 35 percent were prescribed hormones and just 7 percent were prescribed a puberty blocker.

“HB 68 uses false information to strip away parents’ rights and impose non-scientific restrictions on pediatric healthcare specialists. It bans all healthcare and medications that are used in extremely limited but critical circumstances,” Lashutka added. “It is a dangerous precedent for government to dictate when medication is appropriate in pediatrics.”

Rejecting global medical consensus

For young transgender people, gender-affirming care is often as simple as seeing a primary care physician who uses the correct name, pronouns and language to refer to them during routine checkups. Typically, a young transgender person will undergo months or years of therapy and counseling that directly involves their parents or guardians and larger support systems.

If passed, the HB 68 would criminalize any type of care considered “gender-affirming,” for transgender youth, including talk therapy. Cisgender youth, however, would still be permitted to receive gender-affirming healthcare.

In addition to criminalizing healthcare for young transgender people, HB 68 would also enact a blanket ban on transgender athletes.

Just a handful of Ohio’s 1.6 million public school students are transgender athletes — all of whom compete under fairness standards designed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA). The OHSAA’s director, Doug Ute, submitted written testimony on behalf of the organization urging lawmakers to reject the bill.

The 67,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics also opposes criminalizing gender-affirming care and banning trans youth from sports.

Dr. Christopher Bolling and Dr. Kate Kruek testified on behalf of the Ohio chapter of the academy, submitting the AAP’s full policy statement of support of evidence-based gender affirming healthcare for transgender youth, authored in 2018 and reaffirmed in August 2023.

In a March 2021 statement, AAP president Dr. Lee Savio Beers directly addressed how legislative efforts to criminalize healthcare for trans youth and to ban trans youth from competing in sports are connected:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youth who identify as transgender have access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care that is provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space. We also recommend that playing on sports teams helps youth develop self-esteem, correlates positively with overall mental health, and appears to have a protective effect against suicide.

“These bills not only ignore these recommendations, they undermine them. Instead, the legislation would allow policymakers rather than pediatricians to determine the best course of care for our patients, and in some medically underserved states, it could mean losing an already limited number of pediatric practitioners who care for transgender youth. Forcing transgender children to play on teams according to their sex assigned at birth, rather than the gender they live in, also puts their physical and mental health at risk.

“Evidence-based medical care for transgender and gender diverse children is a complex issue. Pediatricians are best able to determine what care is necessary and appropriate for these children, but these bills interfere in the physician-patient-family relationship and would cause undue harm.” 

(Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics, March 13, 2021)

Anti-transgender organizations and conservative lawmakers often cite anti-transgender material produced by designated anti-LGBTQ+ hate group The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds). These lawmakers include HB 68’s primary sponsor, Baptist pastor and Ohio House Representative Gary Click (R-Vickery).

ACPeds, which self-reports about 700 members, has been labeled both an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group and a fringe group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The hate group was started by doctors who broke from the AAP after it affirmed LGBTQ+ couples’ right to adopt in 2002.

While ACPeds provided testimony for HB 68’s third hearing written by representative Andre Van Mol, it did not send a representative to provide public testimony in-person.

Anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups provide testimony

More than 600 pieces of public testimony have been submitted in opposition to the bill, which doctors and healthcare providers in Ohio’s hospital systems testified would devastate transgender youth, putting their physical and mental health at risk and heightening their risk of suicide.

Of the 32 testimonies submitted in support of the bill, at least 23 were submitted directly by representatives of designated anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups, by individuals with apparent ties to anti-LGBTQ+ hate material, anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups, Christian nationalist groups or anti-transgender fringe groups.

HB 68 contains language similar to model legislation drafted by the Christian nationalist and anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which functions as the legal arm of the national anti-LGBTQ+ hate group, the Family Research Council (FRC).

On multiple occasions, ADF attorney Matt Sharp has provided anti-LGBTQ+ testimony on behalf of the hate group, using incorrect and medically inaccurate language while urging lawmakers to pass the bill.

The Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) is the Family Research Council’s Ohio policy advocacy branch, and met the Southern Poverty Law Center’s criteria for a designated anti-LGBTQ+ hate group between 2015 and 2017.

Since 2022, the group has sent multiple representatives to provide testimony in support of the bill.

On Wednesday, CCV’s David Mahan offered testimony on behalf of the group, citing sources and material most often used by the anti-transgender fringe groups Genspect and the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM)

Rep. Click — the bill’s primary sponsor — has publicly discussed his and Mahan’s personal and political relationship.

Sen. Kristina Roegner (R, District 27), who chairs the Senate Government Oversight Committee, also appears to have ties to the Christian nationalist group, sharing anti- transgender content produced by CCV via her account on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

What happens next?

Members of the Ohio Senate Oversight Committee will convene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday December 3, to take a vote on HB 68.

Committee members are:

Should the majority of committee members vote in favor the bill, the legislation will continue to the Ohio Senate for a full senate vote.

The committee hearing is viewable via livestream on the

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