COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A bill that would ban various medical procedures for transgender or non-binary minors in Ohio is drawing strong public reaction, including from Dayton native and Jeopardy champion Amy Schneider.
House Bill 454 — the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act — would bar healthcare professionals from providing gender-affirming treatment, like hormone replacement therapy, and reconstructive surgery, to trans and gender non-conforming kids in Ohio.
More than 280 opponents submitted testimony for the bill’s fifth hearing on Wednesday including Schneider, a transgender woman who rose to fame during her Jeopardy winning streak in 2021. Schneider said she would not have had success or continued to survive if she did not receive gender-affirming healthcare.
“Passing this bill would be a tragic mistake,” Schneider said during the hearing. “Because, far from protecting children, this bill would put some of them in grave danger, a danger that not all of them would survive.”
If the SAFE Act becomes law, medical professionals who provide gender transition procedures to a minor could be disciplined by a licensing board. Proponents of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) and Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland), argue Ohioans under the age of 18 are too young to make health decisions that could permanently alter their bodies.
However, the consensus among medical providers — including Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the American Academy of Pediatrics — is that gender-affirming care is an evidence-based practice with a proven track record of improving health outcomes for trans and non-binary youth.
Nationwide Children’s and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association called the bill a “misguided effort” that could exacerbate harm to LGBTQ+ youth by denying healthcare to a population that’s already more susceptible to mental health disorders.
Nick Lashutka, the president of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, emphasized on Wednesday that local hospitals maintain a cautious approach and no gender-affirming care of minors occurs without their parent or legal guardian’s consent.
“All youth and their parents should be afforded the opportunity to consider all options, once established by a medical team, that are backed by science and research,” said Lashutka. “Those at highest risk will experience the most distress should this become law, and we urge you to consider the ramifications of quickly pushing through this reckless legislation.”
Kathryn Poe, Public Policy Manager for Equality Ohio, fought a life-threatening blood disease as a minor that required intense treatment, including off-label use of drugs, mental health treatment and hormones and fertility treatments. Poe said on Wednesday they don’t believe the stories of transgender youth and their families within Ohio’s medical system are any different than theirs.
“Transgender youth and their families are no different,” said Poe. “They are collectively making life-affirming and life-saving decisions together, one at a time, with the advice and support of a holistic medical and mental care team.”
Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are more than four times as likely as their peers to attempt suicide, with more than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ youth seriously considering suicide each year in the U.S., according to The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ people.
Learn more about House Bill 454 and gender-affirming care here.