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Ohio hospitals testify against a trans care ban

In a hearing, the presidents of some of the top pediatric hospitals in the United States testified against trans care bans

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Screenshot/YouTube

By Erin Reed | COLUMBUS, Ohio – Yesterday, Ohio held a hearing for House Bill 68, a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for trans youth and force those already on care to medically detransition.

The hearing was primarily for opponents of the bill—a prior proponent hearing had already happened a week earlier. Testimony stretched on for nearly eight hours, with those submitting testimony against the bill outnumbering supporters 7:1. Testimony came from a wide variety of professionals and those with lived experience, including transgender kids, their doctors, parents, educators, social workers, and more.

Perhaps the strongest testimony of the afternoon, though, came when presidents and leaders representing some of the top hospitals in the United States stepped forward and unequivocally condemned the bill, stating that it would have drastic negative health consequences for trans youth in their care.

At the beginning of the hearing, three leaders in US medical care testified together: Nick Lashutka, President of the Ohio Children’s Hospitals Association serving over 2,600,000 children in the region; Dr. Steve Davis, President of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the US News #1 ranked children’s hospital in the United States; and Dr. Shefali Mahesh, who represented Akron Children’s Hospital.

All of them delivered extremely strong testimony, dispelling myths about trans care. They testified that bans on care would harm an already extremely vulnerable population and that gender-affirming care was the best option for the few trans youth who do ultimately get cleared for medical transition.

Perhaps the strongest moment of the night was when Dr. Davis looked at the committee and pleaded, “You trust us on every other condition. Please, trust us on this one.”

Watch their incredible testimony here:

When Lashutka spoke, he testified that trans care at Ohio Children’s Hospitals is cautious and measured. He stated that in Ohio Children’s Hospitals, patients see multidisciplinary teams and often have long waiting periods before they obtain gender-affirming care.

He also noted that the percentage of youth obtaining gender-affirming care in Ohio is only 0.0003%, a tiny fraction not just of youth in Ohio, but also of trans youth in Ohio. He likewise dispelled the idea that teens are getting care without their parents’ knowing: “All treatment requires parental consent.”

Lashutka, addressing the idea that trans youth are too easily given medical treatments, stated that care is only given to patients meeting rigorous requirements: “Individuals diagnosed with this condition are insistent, consistent, and persistent for a lengthy period of time. The notion that kids declare a feeling and are immediately prescribed at one of our clinics is not true.”

Speaking next was Dr. Davis, who testified not just as the president of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, but as a pediatric critical care physician with 35 years of clinical care experience. He stated, when discussing the gender-affirming care ban and its potential profound negative mental health effects on trans youth, “the most harrowing part of my job is informing parents that their child died, especially when their death was from a preventable suicide.”

He then stated that the gender-affirming care provided by his hospital is done only after “comprehensive assessments, rigorous mental health evaluations, and screening for comorbidities.” He rebuked the idea that hormone therapy in trans youth is done without thorough evaluation, stating that the average time of the evaluation period is “10-12 months.”

Lastly, he stated that there is no financial incentive to providing this care and that they do not make money on it – a reasonable claim given that hormone therapy tends to be relatively inexpensive, and that trans youth are not provided surgery in the Ohio Children’s Hospital system. He closed, stating, “You trust us on every other condition. Please, trust us on this one.”

Dr. Mahesh testified to another aspect of the bill. She stated that increasingly, doctors are having to provide care for patients who have been purchasing hormones off the internet. She indicated that, should a bill like this pass, black and gray market medication might become more common, and that patients would be driven to taking care into their own hands rather than trusting their doctors to administer their care.

Though opposing the bill in its entirety, Lashutka recommended four amendments should the bill pass. First, those already receiving care should be grandfathered in. Second, the “aiding and abetting” clause barring mental health doctors from referrals should be stricken. Third, allowing physicians to provide all information around care, which the bill bars.

Lastly, adding an exception for trans youth who show extreme dysphoria to get care. This last exception was passed in West Virginia’s ban on care.

Though hospital administrators have testified in other hearings in the past, this particular panel of healthcare leaders is perhaps one of the strongest seen in any hearing across the United States. The hospitals they represent and the number of patients they serve could give pause even to the most ardent supporters of the bill.

They are also enormously respected voices for all pediatric care in Ohio and even nationwide – many of the legislators in Ohio likely have children who went to these hospitals, and many of the legislators themselves likely did when they were younger. Their presence, along with the massive showing in opposition to the bill, may have made an impact; while some thought the bill would receive a vote immediately after the hearing, those plans appeared to be scrapped.

The hearing adjourned without a vote, and advocates for trans youth care left knowing they had given their all.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Ohio

Ohio man urinating on home’s pride flag investigated as hate crime

The family posted the video to Reddit after which Columbus Police including the department’s LGBTQ+ liaison officer arrived to investigate

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Screenshot/YouTube WBNS 10TV Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A blended queer family is speaking out after a man was caught on home surveillance video footage urinating on the family’s pride flag. Columbus Police are now investigating the act of vandalism as a hate crime.

NBC News affiliate WCMH-TV 4 Columbus reported that in the video, a man can be seen walking up the porch of a home in the Weinland Park area near the Ohio State University campus. Meanwhile, a second man stays at the bottom of the porch stairs, recording the incident on a cell phone.

The man on the porch then exposes himself and begins urinating on the pride flag, saying, “Fuck the gays, fuck the gays,” while holding up a middle finger. The man then bangs twice on the house’s doors before the two men run from the scene.

The family then posted the video to Reddit after which Columbus Police including the department’s LGBTQ+ liaison officer arrived to investigate.

A Columbus police spokesman said the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

A spokesperson for LGBTQ+ advocacy group Stonewall Columbus told WCMH/NBC 4 that while they are not familiar with the specifics of the incident, there is no place in Columbus for such acts.

“As a Columbus resident, I am disheartened to see people have such blatant disrespect for the property of others and as a community organization, we do hope that the individuals in question are swiftly caught and subject to whatever legal recourse there may be,” Stonewall Columbus Executive Director Densil Porteous said in a statement. “We must work to ensure residents and visitors understand that our city is a welcoming and safe place and such acts are not welcome here.”

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Trans advocates, DeWine respond to Ohio House overriding veto

Wednesday’s 65-28 vote sends House Bill 68 to the Senate where it needs 20 votes to override DeWine’s veto

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An advocate for the trans community protests outside the Senate Chamber while inside lawmakers debated and passed HB 68 that bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth and bars transgender kids from participating on sports teams, December 13, 2023, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

By Megan Henry | COLUMBUS, Ohio – The transgender community is grappling with disappointment while Ohio House Republicans celebrate overriding Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, including hormone therapy and puberty blockers. 

Wednesday’s 65-28 vote sends House Bill 68 to the Senate where it needs 20 votes to override DeWine’s veto. If both chambers pass the override measure, the bill would go into effect 90 days after the final vote. The next Senate session is Jan. 24 and the bill previously passed with 24 votes in the chamber. 

HB 68 is “blatant discrimination” and “out of touch with the actual needs of young people in Ohio,” said Erin Upchurch, executive director of Kaleidoscope Youth Center. 

“This bill and others like it unnecessarily targets transgender non-binary youth, their families and allied providers and health care professionals,” Upchurch said.

Ohio Republicans have no interest in protecting or helping transgender children, said Minna Zelch, the mother of a 19-year-old transgender daughter.

“Our children are a sacrifice to them and is a sacrifice that they think is perfectly worth having,” Zelch said. “Our kids are not collateral damage.”

Chase Strangio, the deputy director of transgender justice for the ACLU, has been litigating against similar pieces of legislation across the country for the past four years.

“We recognize the grave harm of legislative measures like this one,” Strangio said.

Equality Ohio is disgusted by the House’s override of DeWine’s veto, said Siobhan Boyd-Nelson, the organization’s co-interim executive director. 

“Not only did they override Governor DeWine’s appropriate veto of HB 68, they once again ignored the voices of hundreds of Ohioans who testified against the bill,” Boyd-Nelson said.

Gender-affirming care generally consists of four general practices: social affirmation, puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Population Affairs.

“What we’re talking about is not something newfangled,” said Cathryn Oakley, the senior director of Legal Policy at the Human Rights Campaign. “It’s not something exotic. … We are talking about health care being denied to transgender people simply because they are transgender.”

DeWine’s response to the House’s override 

DeWine said Thursday he suspected some of the Republicans voted to override his veto because of the portion of the bill that would prevent transgender athletes from playing women’s sports.

 COLUMBUS, Ohio — JANUARY 10: State Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, speaks in favor of overriding Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of HB 68 during the Ohio House session, January 10, 2024, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

“The sports issue affects only a minute number of people,” DeWine said.“It was not the reason that I vetoed the bill. So I think, by combining those two, a lot of members, at least members I talked to this weekend, had latched on to the issue of sports they felt very strongly about.”

DeWine said he vetoed the bill on Dec. 29 because he believes parents of transgender children should be making these medical decisions, not the government. 

“That’s my opinion, it certainly has not changed,” he said. “My veto was not based upon anything having to do with the athletes … I cannot do anything about what the legislature’s position is.”

If a trans girl wants to play on a team with cis girls in Ohio, she must go through hormone treatments for at least one year or show no physical or  physiological advantages, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Despite the House Republicans overriding his veto, DeWine doesn’t think there’s a disconnect between him and members of his own party. 

“We are very closely aligned,” he said. “They’re aligned with me as far as education, early childhood education, early childhood development, mental health, the science of reading, these are things that affected most people in the state of Ohio.”

DeWine’s executive order and proposed administrative rules

DeWine signed an executive order last week that bans gender reassignment surgery on trans youth and his administration proposed rules to collect data on transgender medical care and modify the treatment of those with gender dysphoria, including requiring patients under 21 undergo six months of counseling before receiving more treatment. 

“It’s a direct and full attempt to cripple medical care both for trans youth and trans adults across the state,” said Dara Adkison, the secretary for TransOhio. 

These proposed rules could turn Ohio into one of the most restrictive states in the country in terms of accessing transgender care for adults, Strangio said.

Advocates fear the proposed rules would increase barriers to gender-affirming care.

“There’s already standards of care that have been established for transition care,” Upchurch said.

Ohioans can provide feedback on the proposed transition care rule by reaching out to [email protected] with the subject line, “Comments on Gender Transition Care Rules.” The comments close Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.

Feedback for the data collection proposal can be sent to [email protected] by Feb. 5.

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on X.

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Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime.

She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.

The preceding article was previously published by the Ohio Capital Journal and is republished with permission.

The Ohio Capital Journal is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to connecting Ohioans to their state government and its impact on their lives. The Capital Journal combines Ohio state government coverage with incisive investigative journalism, reporting on the consequences of policy, political insight and principled commentary.

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Ohio bans gender transition surgeries for minors

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Gov. Mike DeWine provides details on his executive order in a Friday January 5, 2024 press conference detailing new administrative rules governing transgender healthcare following his veto of HB 68. (Screenshot/YouTube WBNS 10TV)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — During a press conference Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he had signed a far-reaching executive order that banned gender transition surgeries for anyone under the age of 18 in the state.

“Although I vetoed Substitute House Bill 68, I stated clearly in my Veto Message that I agreed with the General Assembly that no gender transition surgeries should be performed on anyone under the age of 18 and I directed agencies under my purview to draft rules to ban this practice in Ohio,” the governor told reporters.

DeWine also told reporters that he had spoken with families ahead of his veto, and said none of them advocated for transition surgery for their children. “There’s a broad, broad consensus against surgeries for minors, so let’s put that into a law so we can move on and talk about other things,” the governor said.

The governor also announced that he was requiring state health officials to implement rules that included trans Ohioan adults. The rule would include require a comprehensive care plan for transgender adults and children that ensures they see an endocrinologist, psychiatrist and bioethicist.

That portion of the governor’s remarks prompted a fast rebuke from LGBTQ advocacy groups and trans activists. Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and LGBTQ legal group told the Blade in an emailed statement: ” Governor DeWine should be applauded for attempting to prevent a legislative override of his veto of a complete ban on medical care for transgender youth. That said, he has made a grave mistake by proposing restrictions on adult care. Adults must be free to make decisions about their own lives. There is no place for governments to tell adult transgender people how to live or what healthcare they undergo. What DeWine has proposed is dangerous government overreach and it must be stopped at all costs.”

Journalist Erin Reed noted that “these restrictions would all but eliminate trans care, slowing it to a trickle.”

“There are only two states in the United States that have imposed similar restrictions on adults to what DeWine is calling- Florida and Missouri. Missouri was a disaster for the 2 weeks it was in effect, but it got overturned in court. Florida has seen massive trans adult healthcare losses,” Reed said, adding: “Even if the restrictions are as simple as closing down Nurse Practitioners from providing care, like Florida did, that was disastrous as it led to a massive glut in care and kicked most trans adults off. MOST adult care is done via NPs. Especially in underserved areas.”

The governor told reporters that he’s not aware of any complaints filed with the Ohio Medical Board over pop-up clinics. But he said he’s concerned that there are facilities prescribing hormones without counseling, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

“As I spent time looking at this and listening to people, it’s clear that the most important part is the mental health counseling,” DeWine said. “It needs to be lengthy, and it needs to be comprehensive.”

Maria Bruno, public policy director for Equality Ohio told the Columbus Dispatch in an emailed statement that DeWine’s executive order is unnecessary because Ohio clinics already do not perform gender transition surgery on minors. The organization is waiting to review the other measures before staking out a position.

“Equality Ohio will defend unequivocally the right of adults to seek the medical care of their choosing,” Bruno said in a statement. “Issue 1’s decisive victory in November was proof that Ohioans do not want politicians in their doctor’s office, period.”

DeWine provides details on administrative rules following his veto of HB 68

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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine vetoes trans youth healthcare ban

The veto is a stunning blow to proponents of gender affirming care bans- there may be cracks in the GOP’s strategy on targeting trans youth

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Republican Gov. Mike DeWine briefs reporters on his decision to veto Republican majority lawmakers gender-affirming care ban bill.(Screenshot/YouTube)

By Erin Reed | COLUMBUS, Ohio – Today, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine took the extraordinary step of vetoing a bill that would have banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Ohio.

His move will be remembered alongside famous vetoes by Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah, who opposed anti-transgender measures proposed by Republican legislatures in their states. Due to DeWine’s veto, the bill must now return to the Ohio legislature, where a three-fifths vote is required to override the veto and pass the bill over the governor’s objections.

“Parents have looked me in the eye and told me that but for this treatment, their child would be dead,” Gov. DeWine said to reporters in a press briefing. “And youth who are transgender have told me they are thriving today because of their transition.”

He then spoke about his individual discussions with those parents: “What so many of these young people and their families have also told me was that nothing they’ve ever faced in their life could prepare them for this tough journey. Parents are making decisions for the most precious thing in their life: their child. These are gut wrenching decisions that should be made by parents, and should be informed by teams of doctors that are advising them.”

He then reiterated the importance parents rights, “While the parents doctors inform those decisions, it is the parents who know their child best… Were Ohio to pass HB68, Ohio would be saying that the state knows what is better, what is medically best for the child, than the two people who love that child the most: the parents.”

When asked what was the biggest influence on his decision, he cited his conversation with parents as well as testimony from directors and doctors of Ohio’s Children’s Hospitals, which rank #1 in the United States.

He closed, “I cannot sign this bill as it is currently written. Just a few minutes ago, I vetoed this bill.”

The bill, House Bill 68, sponsored by Rep. Gary Click, a right-wing pastor, combines both a gender affirming care ban and a sports ban. Click has acknowledged practicing conversion therapy.

Under the proposed law, gender-affirming care for transgender youth would be prohibited, and transgender individuals would be excluded from a wide range of sports, from dance to darts, in both high schools and colleges. If Ohio enacts this bill, it will become the 22nd state to explicitly outlaw gender-affirming care for minors. Notably, all these states have seen such legislation driven by Republican supermajorities.

The legislation received swift and strong opposition in the state. Senator Paula Hicks-Hudson, a Democratic senator sitting on the committee that passed the bill, noted that there were 525 opponents to only 43 proponents that submitted testimony.

Most of the proponents of the legislation came from out of state and included high profile right-wing figures like Riley Gaines and Chloe Cole. Testifying against the bill, however, were leading representatives from most major medical organizations in the United States and Ohio, including the Ohio Children’s Hospitals.

Others who testified included parents of trans youth in the state, the trans kids themselves, business leaders, therapists, and local activists. Significantly, even many detransitioners—individuals who previously identified as transgender but have since returned to a cisgender identity—spoke out against the bill. This fact is particularly noteworthy considering the right wing’s use of detransition narratives as a tool to target transgender individuals, despite detransitioning being a relatively rare occurrence among transgender people.

Despite widespread opposition, Republicans gave attention to conservative supporters of the bill who argued that rejecting transgender individuals was the appropriate approach. “Partners for Ethical Care,” an organization comprising parents who oppose their transgender children’s gender identities, likened being transgender to an addiction that needs treatment.

Furthermore, the Alliance Defending Freedom, known for its involvement in drafting and defending such bills, also advocated in favor of the legislation. This stance aligns with the organization’s history of association with the ‘ex-gay’ movement and its ongoing defense of conversion therapy for both gay and transgender individuals

This veto is crucial as it grants transgender youth in Ohio additional time to access medical care and provides families the opportunity to exert further pressure on Republican legislators. Some may interpret Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto as an indication to reassess the bill. DeWine, a popular governor with a 57% approval rating in Ohio, wields significant influence within the state’s Republican Party. His position could signal that the bill may not enjoy the level of popularity its Republican sponsors have claimed.

Gender affirming care, the kind banned by this bill, saves lives. There is extraordinary amounts of evidence backing that up: some studies have reported up to 73% decreases in suicidality among trans youth who are allowed to obtain it.

These findings were replicated as early two weeks ago, when a journal article was published in the prestigious Journal of Adolescent Health, puberty blockers were associated with a significant reduction in depression and anxiety. The endorsement of gender affirming care is supported by a collection of over 50 journal articles compiled by Cornell University, all of which underscore its beneficial effects.

The veto statement included some caveats. Gov. Mike DeWine announced his intention to use administrative processes to prohibit surgeries in the state and to gather data on transgender care for both youth and adults. However, the most concerning aspect of Gov. DeWine’s announcement was the potential for increased scrutiny of transgender adults in Ohio. The specifics of these administrative processes and rules are yet to be determined.

Now, the bill returns to the legislature, offering a temporary reprieve for families and parents of transgender youth. Meanwhile, Republicans face a pivotal decision: prioritize the welfare of Ohio families and adhere to best medical practices, or yield to conservative influencers who advocate for policies detrimental to transgender youth for political gain.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

******************************************************************************************

The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Ohio Trans ban proponents also push conversion therapy

Ohio proponents of a ban on gender affirming care testified “alternate treatments” such as witch doctors & conversion therapy were acceptable

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Screenshot/Ohio State Government Television

By Erin Reed | COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Tuesday, the Ohio Senate Government Oversight Committee convened to hear House Bill 68, a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth, force them into medical detransition, and ban trans women from women’s sports.

Representative Gary Click, a right-wing pastor known for practicing conversion therapy, is behind this latest effort in a series of attempts to enact transgender restrictions in Ohio. The hearing, designated “proponents only,” featured testimonies only from those supporting it. The proponents who spoke testified that family rejection, addiction counseling, and even conversion therapy may be the right options to treat transgender people, while also relying on retired pharmacists and fringe doctors to justify the bans.

The bill, which has already passed the Ohio House of Representatives, was proposed by Representative Gary Click. It is one of several bills targeting transgender and LGBTQ+ people in the state, including a public drag ban and a ban on transgender students in college bathrooms.

It comes after Republicans running on transgender issues lost in several school board races across the state. It combines two contentious anti-trans bills: a ban on gender affirming care up to the age of 18 years old and a ban on transgender people playing in sports of their gender identity.

Importantly, there are no exceptions for the gender affirming care ban for severe dysphoria, no alternate treatments presented in the bill, and it even would pull transgender youth who are already on medication off of their medication, forcing them to medically detransition.

The hearing included testimonies from several members of the small group of political detransitioners and social media influencers who frequently travel between state hearings to oppose gender-affirming care, paralleling the ex-gay movement of the 1990s and early 2000s. A recent article states that prominent figures in this group, like Chloe Cole, may be paid for their appearances.

Detransitioners and “trans regretters,” including Chloe Cole, Prisha Mosely, and Corinna Cohn — all recent participants in a controversial Genspect conference where trans women were said to transition due to thinking they are “failed boys” — spoke at the hearing. Riley Gaines, famous for tying for 5th place against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, also made an appearance.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that, according to a Cornell University review, detransition rates are estimated to be between 1-3%. Moreover, the reasons for detransitioning most commonly do not stem from a lack of transgender identity but rather from parental pressure, employment challenges, or societal stigma.

One of the detransitioners who testified to ban gender affirming care seemed to make this point without realizing it. Richard Anumene, who is suing Kaiser Permanente for providing him gender affirming care as an adult, testified that he faced immense family pressure after transitioning at the age of 20.

Though he states that he experienced a wonderful transition early on, he was “convinced to return to presenting as a man” due to rejection by his father and economic difficulties, in line with recent studies showing transgender people experience heightened rates of poverty. Numerous other witnesses would suggest family rejection and non-affirmation could be a way to stop trans people from being trans.

Another detransitioner, Morgan Keller, testified for the first time that she detransitioned due to being “seduced” by “gender ideology” and a belief that her gender identity was a “delusion.” She left out an important part of her own detransition journey, however; Keller, when posting online about her detransition, stated that the actual reason she detransitioned was because she had a religious experience that resulted in an intense dream where God told her she was on the wrong path. Religious experiences like this are common in both the ex-gay and the religious detransitioner communities, which often teach that being LGBTQ+ goes against God’s will.

Perhaps one of the most extreme testimonies came from Jeanette Cooper, who rejected her own child’s transgender identity and who lost custody to the child’s father after the he testified that Cooper’s actions led to mental and emotional harm. Cooper revealed that she leads a group of “thousands of parents” who do not affirm their transgender children’s gender identities, promoting this form of rejection as a way to deter being transgender. Later, when asked how people with gender dysphoria should be treated, she stated that it must be treated “like an addiction.” There is no evidence that treating being transgender “like an addiction” helps health outcomes for them, but plenty of evidence that rejection has profound negative impacts. Transgender youth with parental support was reported in one study to show a 63% lower suicidality rate.

You can see an excerpt from her submitted testimony here:

One group that sent a representative to testify was the Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization behind writing most of the anti-trans laws in the United States and the organization being paid large sums of money to defend them in court.

Matt Sharp from the Alliance Defending Freedom testified that banning trans care does not violate the organization’s “parental rights” stance, and that the ban “only targeted puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery” for trans youth. When asked what was left for these youth, he claimed that “therapy” was the best way to treat them.

It is important to note that organizations that often ally with the Alliance Defending Freedom push a variety of forms of conversion therapy. The Alliance Defending Freedom itself once allied with Exodus International, the ex-gay movement of the 1990s and early 2000s, and continues to defend conversion therapy for both gay and transgender people. Interestingly, the recently elected speaker of the US House, Mike Johnson, was part of that partnership.

There is no evidence that conversion therapy is a good treatment for transgender people, and plenty of evidence that it does harm. Meanwhile, gender affirming care has extremely strong evidence behind it. A recent journal article in the esteemed medical journal, The Lancet, judged that gender affirming care is a form of preventative healthcare. It leads to an improved quality of life and plays a major role in the well-being of transgender people.

Several studies have shown that it leads to positive mental health outcomes and heavily reduces suicides—some studies report a remarkable 73% decrease in suicide rates. The endorsement of gender affirming care is supported by a collection of over 50 journal articles compiled by Cornell University, all of which underscore its beneficial effects.

Several other proponents were brought in to testify. These proponents included fringe medical practitioners, such as Ohio pharmacist Kent Zellner, who resigned as a pharmacist after refusing to fill Plan B prescriptions in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Cynthia Millen, a woman often presented as a “USA Swimming official” who has stated that “predators love Planned Parenthood” and that gay people should “practice chastity,” testified as well.

Riley Gaines, a major conservative influencer, also showed up to testify in favor of the sports ban portion of the bill. Following the hearing, she announced to her followers that she played a major role in banning transgender women from women’s chess.

Despite anti-trans policies not being politically popular in Ohio—70% of of school board candidates running on transgender issues and Moms For Liberty platforms lost—sources indicate that Republicans intend to push this bill through. Should it pass into law, Ohio will be one of the last conservative states to pass a gender affirming care ban and sports ban for trans youth. The harm these bills will do is immense if passed into law.

The next hearing will be an opponent hearing, which will be announced at a later date.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Plea deal in shooting threats against Ohio LGBTQ+ students

The charges resulted from the call to Kettering Fairmont High School after the student body made history by crowning two LGBTQ+ students

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Kettering Municipal Court (Photo Credit: Clerk of the Kettering Municipal Court)

KETTERING, Ohio – A municipal court judge in this inner suburban Dayton city sentenced a Beavercreek, Ohio man to three years of supervised probation and 90 days on electronic home monitoring,  for making a threatening call this past May about shooting LGBTQ+ high school students.

Booking photo: Brandon Moore via Kettering Police Department

The Dayton Daily News reported that Brandon Dawes Moore, 42, was sentenced Tuesday in Kettering Municipal Court after he pleaded guilty to telecommunications harassment. As part of his plea, a misdemeanor inducing panic charge was dismissed.

The charges resulted from Moore’s call to Kettering Fairmont High School after the student body made history by crowning two LGBTQ+ students, seniors Dai’sean Conley and Rosie Green, as prom king and queen.

An annual Spring ritual of passage for high school age teenagers, prom is considered the seminal event marking the impending end of the academic school year, and for seniors the transition to college or jobs.

For Conley and Green, who identifies as non-binary, being voted for the honor of being prom royalty by their peers was special, at least until hate and negative feedback targeted the pair.

What followed next was heated debate, acrimonious social media posts, and physical threats against the LGBTQ community leading to Moore’s arrest. On May 3, Moore was booked into the city jail on a preliminary felony charge of inducing panic. However, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office determined there was no evidence to support a felony charge, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Michael Knote, the Executive Director of ‘Have A Gay Day,’ a Dayton- based LGBTQ+ community centre, food pantry and national web based outreach program told the Blade Sunday:

“How do we find balance when making threats against innocent children doesn’t carry some kind of answer that is more meaningful than a stern talking to because that’s how this feels. I don’t know if there is a list of people that make threats against schools and school activities but these things feel like warning signs and perhaps something that should be looked at more closely. We always highlight after tragedy the signs that everyone seems to keep missing, perhaps we need to do more when someone thinks an answer is imagining harm to another life.”

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Ohio Republican claims bathroom ban nothing to do with trans

“This legislation doesn’t refer to anything with regards to state or federal law with regards to transgender”

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Ohio state house in Columbus. (Photo Credit: Library of Congress photographs collection)

By Erin Reed | COLUMBUS, Ohio – In Ohio, a bill targeting restroom access for transgender individuals gained renewed traction, leading to a hearing on Thursday. House Bill 183, introduced in May, had previously been overshadowed as legislators predominantly directed their attention towards sports bans and prohibitions on gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Notably, neither of these measures have been passed into law. However, following a year marked by an unprecedented wave of legislation aimed at restricting the rights of transgender individuals, certain Ohio legislators seem ready for another push.

This effort goes beyond what most other states have attempted: If successful, Ohio would impose restrictions surpassing even those few states that have already enacted bans on transgender restroom usage with the passage of this legislation.

House Bill 183 is explicit in its provisions. Not only would it prevent transgender students in K-12 schools from using restrooms that align with their gender identity, but it also extends this restriction to transgender adults across all colleges and universities in the state.

Remarkably, these stipulations would apply regardless of the gender reflected on an individual’s birth certificate, even if they’ve legally changed their gender. Instead, restroom use would be determined by the “biological sex” recorded on a birth certificate at or close to the time of birth, pointedly omitting those who have since made legal amendments to their certificates.

You can see both the biological sex definition in the bill as well as the prohibition on students in universities here:

Wednesday’s hearing on the bill proved to be heated. Only those supporting the bill were permitted to testify that day, in line with Ohio’s system of separating “proponent and opponent” testimonies. One notable moment was when a representative referenced a YMCA incident in Xenia, Ohio but omitted the crucial detail that the transgender individual involved was acquitted of public indecency.

Representative Lear stood out with particularly derisive remarks towards trans people, suggesting that transgender restroom use is part of a “sexual revolution” that could “weaken laws against pornography, rape, and child molestation.” When pressed about the law’s enforcement and determining who is transgender, Representative Lear commented that “some people can and some people can’t.”

Ohio already has a glaring example that underscores the perils of policies like the one proposed in the bill. Last year, a transgender man in Ohio was physically assaulted in a women’s restroom. Prior to this, he had sought guidance from a campground owner about which restroom to use because of his transgender status.

The campground owner advised him to use the women’s restroom in line with his “biological sex,” a term that was defined in a similar way to this bill. Inside, patrons mistakenly assumed he was a transgender woman and attacked him. If this bill is enacted, such alarming incidents could become more frequent, pushing transgender men and women into restrooms where they do not belong.

Later in the hearing, the committee’s chair, Representative Tom Young, asserted that the bill wasn’t related to transgender individuals, remarking, “This legislation doesn’t refer to anything with regards to state or federal law with regards to transgender.” This line of reasoning is becoming familiar in legislative settings, where proponents of bills that adversely impact trans individuals maintain that the legislation isn’t about them. A similar narrative emerged in Montana regarding the state’s drag ban. Despite multiple legislators stating on the House floor that the bill had nothing to do with transgender people, the law’s first target was, tellingly, a transgender woman.

Only 10 states have passed bathroom bans in the United States, all all but three of those states’ bans only apply to transgender youth in school settings. North Dakota’s bathroom ban applies to Universities. Florida and Kansas have total bathroom bans, though only Florida has an enforcement mechanism: criminal penalties of up to a year in prison.

You can see a map of states with bathroom bans here:

States with bathroom bans.

The bill is slated for a comprehensive hearing of opposing views on October 11th. If enacted, Ohio would join the ranks of states with more stringent restrictions on restroom access for transgender individuals, both young and old. While Ohio has refrained from enacting the most severe anti-trans laws, many will be watching closely to see if this stance shifts.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Ohio school superintendent orders LGBTQ+ mural painted over

Debate over discussions about race, inclusion, & LGBTQ+ issues in Forest Hills Schools was reignited by the decision to paint over the mural

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The student created LGBTQ+ affirming mural inside Nagel Middle School before it was painted over. ( Photo Credit: Forest Hills Schools board member Leslie Rasmussen)

Cincinnati, Ohio – The Forest Hills Schools Board of Education meeting erupted in controversy Wednesday night as parents and community members reacted to the decision to paint over a student-created LGBTQ+ affirming mural at the start of the school year.

Superintendent Larry Hook, who was targeted by audience members during the public comments session, remained silent and did not respond to the criticism directly.

Cincinnati Public Radio station WVXU 91.7 FM reported that debate over discussions about race, inclusion, and LGBTQ+ issues in Forest Hills Schools was reignited by Hook’s decision to paint over the student-created mural, which depicted the hands of people of different races signaling love and solidarity surrounded by symbols of equality and acceptance of various sexual orientations.

According to WVXU 91.7 FM, dozens showed up to Wednesday’s meeting holding signs of the mural. Forest Hills parent Jeff Nye addressed Hook directly, calling his response to the initial backlash childish.

“A 7th or 8th grade kid — 12- or 13-years-old — damaged that banner and that’s unacceptable and should be punished,” Nye said. “But before that happened, you had an opportunity to reflect and take action, value the feedback you received, to lead by example, to lead with humility, and say ‘I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have put it there,’ but you didn’t. You doubled down. You didn’t act like leader. You acted like a kid. You took your ball and you went home and I’m incredibly disappointed.”

High school student Norah Zellen also had strong words for Hook, saying that permanently covering the mural will have a more negative impact on students than district leaders thought.

“The mural exhibited a safe and inclusive learning environment, yet it was painted over. This action shows thoughtlessness, a lack of authenticity, and calls into question if the school board and superintendent want some students erased,” Zellen told Hook.

The Superintendent defended his decision remarking:

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who were very upset that it was there,” he said. “So, it’s kind of created this battle that shouldn’t even be in schools. We need to focus on our education. We need to focus on what’s important. That doesn’t mean we marginalize anybody.”

WVXU 91.7 FM also reported that a small number of adults spoke out during public comment defending Hook’s decision. One attendee, who took offense to parents and students supporting the mural, was removed by law enforcement after getting into a physical interaction with another audience member.

Forest Hills School District Board of Education Meeting 9-20-23:

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Ohio High School crowns LGBTQ+ prom court, threats erupt

Being voted for the honor of being prom royalty by their peers was special, at least until hate and negative feedback targeted the pair

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Kettering Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio, made history by crowning two LGBTQ+ students, seniors Dai’sean Conley and Rosie Green, as prom king and queen (Screenshot/WDTN NBC 2)

KETTERING, Oh. – The student body of Kettering Fairmont High School in this an inner suburb of Dayton, Ohio made history by crowning two LGBTQ+ students, seniors Dai’sean Conley and Rosie Green, as prom king and queen. What followed next was heated debate, acrimonious social media posts, and physical threats against the LGBTQ community and an arrest.

An annual Spring ritual of passage for high school age teenagers, prom is considered the seminal event marking the impending end of the academic school year, and for seniors the transition to college or jobs.

For seniors Dai’sean Conley and Rosie Green, who identifies as non-binary, voted for the honor of being prom royalty by their peers was special, at least until hate and negative feedback targeted the pair.

NBC News affiliate WDTN 2 reported that during the May 2, 2023 meeting of Kettering City Schools Board of Education public comments took an ugly turn. While the prom court received full support, local resident Joe Overholser believes prom king and queen should be a biological male and female.

“Till the last few years about all the history in the world, it’s kind of been understood,” Overholser said. “So, you know, so for whatever reason the last few years, it’s has been questioned. And I don’t think that’s a good thing for society.”

Michael Knote, the CEO and Executive Director of ‘Have A Gay Day,’ a Dayton- based LGBTQ+ community centre, food pantry and national web based outreach program told the Blade:

“Prom King and Queen was decided by the students of Kettering Fairmont High School in Kettering Ohio and while the students made their vote and decision it was an outraged community that took the joy away from the event,” Knote said.

“The students decided on 18-year-olds Rosita Green and Dai’sean Conley which identified as gender non-conforming.  The community showed at the most recent school board meeting with some parents and peers being supportive while others demanded change.  Ultimately the school made the decision that the school would stay with tradition for now and the students would decide the results of their Prom King and Queen,” he added.

“Even when I was given the crown and I put on my head, there’s a lot of boos in the crowd,” Conley said. “I didn’t hear them. I only heard the congratulating, which I was very thankful for.”

“It’s very demeaning,” Conley added. “It takes a lot for an individual to be able to bring themself back to who they are and believing in themselves and being fully confident and not letting things like that pull them out of who they are as a person.”

The Kettering City School’s Board of Education decided that the choice by the students despite the complaints would stand and the board said that it would not interfere.

The day after the board meeting, the high school received a threat via phone around 9 a.m. A spokesperson for the school district told WDTN 2 the threat was not towards one specific person, but a broad safety threat.

“Following district safety protocols, Fairmont’s on-site School Resource Officer was made aware of the phone call,” the spokesperson said.

Booking photo: Brandon Moore via Kettering Police Department

“Kettering Police were able to determine immediately that the phone call had come from a location in Beavercreek and advised Fairmont High Administration that maintaining a normal routine at the school would be helpful as they continued their investigation to identify the individual who had made the call.”

Kettering Police immediately responded with an increased presence at the school and the ensuing investigation determined that the caller was a  Beavercreek resident, Brandon Moore who was charged Wednesday, May 3, 2023, with telecommunications and disturbing the peace violations.

According to police officials Moore threatened anyone at the high school who identified LGBTQ.

“In the wake of the threatening phone call today and the increased media coverage regarding Fairmont’s 2023 Prom Court, KPD will continue to provide additional police officer coverage at the high school for the foreseeable future to assist SRO Spinks in assuring the safety of all,” the Kettering City Schools District said in a statement.

Many schools in Ohio are making the news over LGBTQ students.  Butler High School in Vandalia, Ohio cancelled prom king and queen votes because a member of the LGBTQ+ Community was nominated on April 21st

The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school board removed language from their policies in the past week protecting LGBTQ+ students and staff the Dayton Daily News reported. The board approved changes to its policies Thursday that remove specific language for discrimination protections for LGBTQ staff and students, but vowed to revisit the policy in the future to accommodate stronger anti-bullying measures for those students.

Protections against discriminatory harassment would remain, including those based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, religion, ancestry or genetic information.

Students and parents Thursday condemned the changes, saying it proves the board thinks Bellbrook’s LGBTQ students are unworthy of protection, and sends tacit approval to bullies that pick on gay kids, whether they intended to or not.

“I gotta be real, there’s a lot of bullying in this school,” said student Ethan Newell. “You’re writing the words that define the students’ lives. You’re writing a reality. You think it’s a piece of paper, to us it’s our reality.”

“As a community many feel gutted that politics and personal prejudices are standing over parental, and youth rights.  What have we become when our students are risking their safety to stand on sidewalks to hold signs and speaking at school board meeting podiums as teens out themselves to an unsupportive community pleading for a right to exist safely,” said ‘Hace A Gay Day’s Knote.

He noted that the hallways of bullying and the echo chambers of erasing the community are becoming far too common. 

“While the violence of school life and active threats is felt across the nation the students of today are powerful and will not be dismissed.  Listening to the youth that stand up for their generation gives you such hope but also makes you ask what have we become when we see people discriminating against our children and dismissing the concerns of safety,” he said.

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Trans youth sports ban fails to pass Ohio House

The Ohio bill is the latest in a year that has seen over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced. The legislation overwhelmingly targets Trans youth

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Ohio State House, Columbus (Photo credit: Library of Congress)

COLUMBUS – A bill that would ban Transgender women and girls from participating in high school and college sports failed to garner enough votes to pass the Ohio House in a late night session before the Ohio Legislature adjourned for the year.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) has a policy, which has been in place since 2015, that sets standards for the inclusion of Trans Ohioans in school sports. According to Equality Ohio, throughout the policy’s 10-year history, fewer than 20 Trans girls were approved to play high school girls’ sports. 

Rep. Jena Powell, a Republican representing a district north of Dayton, added anti-Trans language to H.B. 151, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Don Jones, a piece of unrelated legislation that would revise Ohio’s Teacher Residency Program.

The amended bill was introduced last June on the first day of Pride Month.

The bill that would ban Transgender women and girls from participating in high school and college sports would also require those accused of being Trans to go through a “verification process” to check their genitals. 

The Ohio bill is the latest in a year that has seen over 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced. The legislation overwhelmingly targets Trans youth, from blocking participation in sports to baring access to gender-affirming care.

According to a press release from Equality Ohio, in the last two weeks—in an attempt to save face but preserve the cruelty—the genital inspection language had been replaced with equally exclusionary language that created a blanket ban on transgender girls by adding a birth certificate verification process.

Ultimately, a new amendment passed on the Senate floor coupled pieces of the ban with 2000+ pages of other large changes to Ohio’s education system. Thankfully, the gigantic amendment—including the anti-trans sports language—was voted down by the House in its entirety.

Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio, said about the victory, “I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the hundreds of community members and advocates who stood up for the rights of all transgender youth to participate in all parts of life as whole people, including sports, just like everyone else. Today is a day to celebrate that trangender Ohioans can continue to play sports with their friends and teammates. To our transgender youth: We see you, we love you, and we will always have your back.”

“TransOhio is vehemently opposed to any legislation that attempts to limit the existing rights and freedoms of trans individuals, especially when lawmakers are clearly using trans children and adolescents as pawns in political games.” said James Knapp Chair of TransOhio. “We are relieved this discriminatory bill did not advance further, but this is again a warning to stay vigilant — this is the second time in two legislative sessions that lawmakers have crammed a failing transphobic bill into an unrelated bill, trying to ram it past the legislature at the eleventh hour, while constituents are asleep.”   

“The ACLU of Ohio is relieved, for every transgender and gender-nonconforming child in this state, that early this morning the Ohio House rejected HB 151,” said Sean McCann from ACLU of Ohio. “We celebrate the fact that trans athletes woke up this morning and found out they can continue to play their favorite sports. Their courage, and the courage of their families, has been so inspiring to watch. It is because of their tireless, courageous advocacy at the Statehouse and elsewhere that this hateful bill did not make it to the Governor’s desk. The ACLU of Ohio will always stand with trans and gender non-conforming youth, and we will continue to be vigilant and prepared to fight against future attacks on their right to exist as their authentic selves.”

“We are grateful that members of the Ohio legislature saw this legislation for what it is: discrimination. All children deserve to have the same positive, affirming, and formative experiences as their peers, and those who tirelessly fought against yet another extremist attack made it clear that our most vulnerable youth deserve to be seen, heard, and protected.” Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director 

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