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Ohio Bill Aims to Stop Gender Transition Procedures for Those Under 18

November 3, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Members of the Ohio House have introduced a bill which would ban transgender kids under 18 from receiving gender transition treatments, even with parental consent. 

“Studies consistently demonstrate that the vast majority of children who are gender non-conforming or experience distress at identifying with their biological sex come to identify with their biological sex in adolescence or adulthood, thereby rendering most medical health care interventions unnecessary,” states the bill sponsored by 23 members including Republican Reps. Gary Click and Diane Grendell.

House Bill 454, known as the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, would stop physicians from providing treatments like puberty blockers, hormone treatments and transgender surgeries.

The bill asserts that the risks of gender transition procedures far outweigh any benefits at this stage of clinical study on the procedures, as there is a lack of any long-term longitudinal studies evaluating the risks and benefits of using these drugs for the treatment of such distress or gender transition.

According to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the “professional understanding of youth that identify as TGD [transgender or gender diverse] is a rapidly evolving clinical field in which research on appropriate clinical management is limited by insufficient funding.”

The statement provides evidence that treatments like pubertal suppression do have potential long-term risks, particularly in terms of bone metabolism and fertility. 

However, the benefit of gender affirmation among adolescents with gender dysphoria is a reduction of the emphasis on gender in their lives which allows them to attend to other developmental tasks such as academic success, relationship building and future-oriented planning.

Data from the Academy’s statement estimates that 0.7% of youth ages 13 to 17 years identify as transgender, and that children typically first recognize their gender as “different” at an average age of 8.5 years, but typically do not disclose such feelings until an average of 10 years later.

The bill does cite evidence from the American Psychiatric Association that only a tiny percentage of the American population experience distress at identifying with their biological sex.

However, a recent statement issued by the American Psychiatric Assocation recognizes that appropriately evaluated transgender and gender variant individuals can benefit greatly from medical and surgical gender transition treatments.

The Center for Christian Virtue, Ohio’s largest Christian public policy organization, assisted in the drafting of the bill’s text to combat what they say is an “unmitigated greed” in the health industry which is leading to lifelong negative consequences for Ohio’s children. 

The bill associates suicide rates, psychiatric morbidities and mortality rates above background populations after inpatient gender reassignment procedures have been performed. 

A fact sheet from the Center further advises there is no data to support the claim that sex reassignment treatments and procedures reduce suicidal ideation, and that studies actually show an increase in suicidal ideation and suicide attempts post-transition. 

However, a study published in April in JAMA Surgery, found the opposite: that gender-affirming surgery is associated with improved mental health outcomes among transgender people. 

In the study population of 20,000 participants, transgender people who received at least one or more gender-affirming surgical procedures had a 42% reduction in the odds of experiencing past-month psychological distress, a 35% reduction in tobacco smoking and 44% reduction in the odds of past-year suicidal ideation.

Evidence in the bill text also indicates that referrals for children to have such surgeries are becoming more frequent, as between 2015 and 2016, gender reassignment surgeries increased by 20%.

The bill also prohibits any physical or mental health provider or medical health care professional from making a referral and any staff at a public or private school from encouraging a minor to seek services.

A medical center in Ohio, MetroHealth, which typically performs transitional surgeries for transgender youth, declined to comment on how this would impact its ability to provide these services, saying in an email to The Well News its physicians are gathering more information.

The bill would also ensure that no public funds would be directly or indirectly used for these services and that no insurance policy or health coverage plan in the state should include reimbursement for gender transition procedures for those under 18. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics finds this practice not only contributes to stigma, prolonged gender dysphoria and poor mental health outcomes, but can lead to patients seeking dangerous non-medically supervised treatments.

“Insurance denials can reinforce a socioeconomic divide between those who can finance the high costs of uncovered care and those who cannot,” the Academy said in the statement. 

Alexa can be reached at [email protected] 

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