Story at a glance

  • Two Ohio lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to provide transgender medical services to patients younger than 18.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doctors provide gender-affirmative care with developmental considerations.
  • At least 10 other states have considered similar bills banning gender-related treatments for those younger than 18.

One day after South Dakota rejected a ban on transgender treatment for minors, two Ohio lawmakers introduced a similar bill in their state. 

Republican Reps. Ron Hood of Ashville and Bill Dean of Xenia announced the "Protect Vulnerable Children Act," which would ban gender-affirming hormone therapies and surgeries on transgender patients younger than 18. 

Under the legislation, medical professionals could be charged with a third-degree felony or sued by patients’ parents for attempting therapeutic or surgical procedures intended to alter the gender of someone younger than age 18, Hood told the Cincinnati Enquirer

"My number one concern, by far and away, is the irreversible nature of these procedures," Hood told the Enquirer. "These procedures, most of them, lead to sterilization. And these things are not reversible." 

Puberty blockers, a common medical treatment for transgender teens, are almost completely reversible, according to medical professionals. Many of the effects of hormone therapy are also reversible depending on how long a patient has been taking them. Sterilization is a risk with hormone therapy, but not puberty blockers. 

The bill goes against recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which encourages gender-affirmative care with developmental considerations. 

“Children who are prepubertal and assert an identity of [transgender and gender diverse] know their gender as clearly and as consistently as their developmentally equivalent peers who identify as cisgender and benefit from the same level of social acceptance,” says the AAP. “This developmental approach to gender affirmation is in contrast to the outdated approach in which a child’s gender-diverse assertions are held as ‘possibly true’ until an arbitrary age (often after pubertal onset) when they can be considered valid.”

In Ohio, Akron Children's Hospital, Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Nationwide Children's Hospital all offer comprehensive medical care for transgender youth incorporating mental health services with medical treatments. Opponents say the bill would deprive transgender youth of medical care at a critical time in their development. 

“It’s a double standard to completely withhold a form of known beneficial medical interventions for this population when we provide medical interventions and treatment for youth for other medical conditions,” Dr. Scott Leibowitz, medical director of behavioral health at Nationwide Children's Hospital's THRIVE Gender Development Program, told the Enquirer. 

Research shows that access to puberty blockers can decrease the risk of suicide in transgender teens, who are at higher risk for suicide than their cisgender peers.

Published on Feb 12, 2020