Ohio pediatricians denounce government control of gender-affirming care

Doctors at major children’s hospitals in Ohio say a bill that would regulate and restrict gender-affirming care puts both patients and doctors at risk and causes the government to make medical decisions.

House Bill 454 had its fourth hearing before the Ohio House Families, Aging, and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, where testimony from opponents was heard from leaders of gender and social programs. treatment centers, all of whom have said that a disconnect between a sex assigned at birth and one’s identity is not only a medical condition, but it is a condition that should receive the necessary treatment.

The decision as to how this treatment is conducted should not be made by the Ohio legislature, medical professionals argued, but by those following the process.

“Decisions about the treatment of gender dysphoria should be left to parents and their teens in consultation with their health care providers,” Dr. Armand Antommaria, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, told the committee Wednesday.

The bill, introduced by Republican state Reps. Gary Click and Diane Grendell, prohibits medical professionals from providing “gender transitioning procedures” to minors, or even referring minors to doctors for the procedures.

Medical professionals who provide such services could be accused of engaging in “unprofessional conduct,” which could affect their medical license and could even expose doctors to lawsuits.

The bill also prevents public funds from going to organizations that provide the procedures and would prevent insurance coverage from going to gender-affirming care for minors, including Medicaid.

All school staff, including school nurses, would be prohibited from “withholding, or encouraging or coercing a minor to withhold from the minor’s parent or legal guardian information that the identity gender of a minor is incompatible with the biological sex of the minor”.

But doctors speaking out on the bill on Wednesday said parents are engaged in the whole process when treating gender dysphoria – when a person’s gender identity differs from their assigned sex. at birth – is performed at Ohio medical facilities.

“As a longtime conservative, I implore you not to legislate personal family decision-making or override the professional practice of medicine,” said Nick Lashutka, president and CEO of the ‘Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.

Proponents of the bill include the religious pressure group Center for Christian Virtue, whose leaders deny that a person can be anything other than the biological sex they were assigned at birth. Dr David Axelson, head of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said that from the perspective that gender dysphoria is a medical diagnosis, not an elective procedure, it is essential to help children’s health.

“The basis of our understanding of gender dysphoria is to understand and recognize that medically it is absolutely possible that a person’s gender identity may differ from their body for many reasons, and that these experiences may not be not choices or ideologies,” Axelson said.

Lashutka submitted estimates that OCHA member hospitals saw about 3,300 patients in clinics under the age of 18 for gender dysphoria.

Other data provided by Lashutka indicates that patients receive a full assessment by mental health specialists, and only 7% of underage patients were prescribed “puberty blockers”. Only 35% of underage patients are prescribed hormone treatments, according to OCHA data.

“No minor can or has received treatment without the consent of their parents or legal guardian,” Lashutka said. “No evidence to the contrary has ever been presented.”

Antommaria said the passage of HB 454 “would threaten the safety of some of Ohio’s most vulnerable children; this would threaten the mental health of adolescents with gender dysphoria.

The committee did not vote on the bill on Wednesday, but a clarification was provided by Click. He said questions have been raised about the bill’s regulation of therapy as a “gender transition procedure”. The Legislative Services Commission ruled that the council did not meet the definition of gender transition procedure under the bill, according to Click.

“In all the things (opponents and sponsors) disagreeing, I think one of the things we can all agree on is that children deserve to have guidance, and so we want to make sure that’s possible,” said Click.

Late Wednesday night, another trans bill passed the AG, although it hasn’t had a committee hearing since June last year.

State Rep. Jena Powell’s bill to ban transgender athletes from competing in sports alongside others of their gender was added to a bill regarding local mentorship during a debate at the ground Wednesday evening.

Republican supporters said the issue centered on fairness in sports, and several female lawmakers spoke from their own experiences in sports, arguing about biological differences between boys and girls.

“I have no problem with trans people,” said state Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton. “I struggle to be physically able to outperform women in women’s sports.”

Democrats, wearing rainbow pins in honor of the designation of June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, strongly criticized the bill.

“How good that it’s 11 p.m. and we’re attacking trans kids in Ohio,” said state Rep. Kent Smith, D-Euclid.

State Rep. Richard Brown, D-Canal Winchester, called out the sponsors for making an amendment that “is completely irrelevant” to the purpose of the original bill, and several Democrats criticized the legislation on youth in Ohio, especially without adoption by a House committee before it was introduced on the floor.

“This is a problem looking for a problem that doesn’t exist,” said state Rep. Phil Robinson, D-Solon.

The bill must now be submitted to the state Senate before it can be forwarded to the governor for signature.

Last June, when the House tried to first pass the bill, Gov. Mike DeWine criticized the measure.

“This issue is best addressed outside of government, through individual sports leagues and athletic associations, including the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which can tailor policies to meet the needs of their member athletes and institutions. members,” the governor said in a statement.

As previously reported, only five transgender girls participated in women’s high school sports in April last year.

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