Across the country, the politicians are increasingly using gender idenity, specifically transgender youth, as a flashpoint in their conservative movement. Last year was reported to be the worst year for Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in recent history; many of these bills focused specifically on minors and their access to health care. Many of these attacks are fueled by fundamental misunderstandings about what gender affirming care is and how it is practiced. Ohio’s House Bill 454 is part of this national wave of attacks.
Gender Affirming medical care is any mental or medical health care that seeks to affirm someone’s gender identity, whether that is a transgender person or a cisgender person. This can include someone’s transition from one gender to another or somewhere in between, depending on the person’s gender identity and assigned sex at birth. Gender transition is a process that includes more than just medical intervention (especially for minors), and it always begins with mental health care and a social transition that includes family and friends.
A robust and growing body of research demonstrates that access to gender-affirming health care, which is widely endorsed by pediatricians, helps transgender kids’ mental health and wellbeing.
Legislation like Ohio’s HB 454 is unfortunately not new—a nearly identical version of HB 454 passed through the Arkansas legislature in 2021 only for it to be blocked by a Federal Judge—and Ohio’s HB 513 from the last GA had a similar goal.
House Bill 454 enforces the ban on affirming care by threatening to remove the licensure of physicians who provide this care as well as threatening civil lawsuits. The bill would also withdraw public funds from any hospital that provides gender affirming services.
The bill bans a number of specific medical treatments for minors, but only for gender affirming care or gender transition related purposes. This includes hormone blockers, hormone therapy, and surgical interventions for anyone under the age of 18. The bill also goes so far as to violate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by banning medicaid and private insurers from covering gender affirming medical treatments.
Although the bill is focused on health care services, one section focuses explicitly on education by requiring counselors and educators to notify a students parents if a student discloses feelings of gender dysphoria, although the language is so vaguely written that simply acting in way that one might not perceive as in alignment with their birth sex could cause someone to be reported:
“No nurse, counselor, teacher, principal, or other official or staff at a public or private school shall…(B) Withhold from a minor’s parent or legal guardian information related to the minor’s perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex.”
HB 454, Lines 225-234.
What, exactly, would count as proof that a student’s perception of their gender is “inconsistent” with their sex isn’t clear in the text of the bill. What is clear is that this section is a violation of Title IX as well as the professional ethical guidelines surrounding confidentiality for many professions, including social workers.
Equality Ohio is asking our community to call the speaker of the House, Representative Bob Cupp, and ask him to stop HB 454, as well as emailing the committee members (or sending a letter as a business or professional organization) to ask for no further hearings on the bill.
You can use these links:
To Learn more about how you can get involved, please contact [email protected]
### Equality Ohio is a statewide organization advancing the rights and protecting the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ Ohioans. Equality Ohio identifies and transforms systems and institutions so LGBTQ+ Ohioans can fully access legal and lived equality in pursuit of an Ohio where people are welcome, affirmed and flourishing. Learn more: www.equalityohio.org.