‘Children Should Not Be Experimented On’: Ohio Legislators Pass SAFE Act
In a victory for safety and privacy, Ohio lawmakers on Wednesday joined the growing list of states that have passed legislation to protect minors from transgender procedures, and to safeguard female athletes from having to compete against — or change in front of — a man.
Both chambers of the state legislature passed House Bill 68 (HB68), which combined the Saving Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act and the Save Women’s Sports Act. The bill protects minors from being subjected to future transgender injections or surgeries, saves state taxpayers from being compelled to pay for transgender procedures through Medicaid in most instances, and prohibits males from participating in female sports. The Ohio Senate amended the bill by a 24-8 vote, before the Ohio House of Representatives endorsed the bill, 61-27.
Governor Mike DeWine (R) has 10 days to give his approval. On Wednesday, the governor told reporters he would “reserve” judgment until he saw the final bill as amended. “Governor DeWine has established that his priority is to keep Ohio’s women and children safe, and I am confident that this bill does that,” said the SAFE Act’s primary sponsor, State Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery).
Christian conservatives celebrated the passage and look forward to the legislation being ratified into law. “No child is born in the wrong body, and no girl should lose her right to a fair playing field in Ohio sports,” Center for Christian Virtue President Aaron Baer stated. “The General Assembly has sent a clear message today to the state: Children should not be experimented on, and we care about the safety and privacy of our girls.”
Yet Planned Parenthood strongly opposed the bill. “All kids across the state, regardless of who they are, deserve access to quality, affirming health care, [and] the opportunity to participate in the same activities as their classmates,” said Lauren Blauvelt, executive director of the abortion chain’s lobbying arm, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.
Three Republicans voted against HB68 — two in the House and one in the Senate: State Reps. Jamie Callender (Concord) and Brett Hillyer (Uhrichsville), and State Senator Nathan Manning (North Ridgeville).
Under the bill, psychologists must get the consent of at least one parent or legal guardian before seeing a minor for transgender counseling. Doctors must also diagnose minors for other comorbidities, such as “anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and other mental health conditions,” as well as “[p]hysical, sexual, mental, and emotional abuse and other traumas.”
The Senate amended the bill on Wednesday to allow transgender offices to continue distributing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to minors who are already undergoing these injections and procedures. The bill creates a private right of action for patients to sue. HB68 also protects Ohio taxpayers from having to fund minors’ “gender transition services” via Medicaid, although the amended version allows taxpayer funding for “[m]ental health services provided for a gender-related condition.”
The portion of HB68 which had been the Save Women’s Sports Act, introduced by Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum), prohibits “individuals of the male sex to participate on athletic teams or in athletic competitions designated only for participants of the female sex,” but women or girls may play on all-male or co-ed teams. Any athlete, coach, or school that loses sports opportunities or suffers other ramifications for refusing to allow males to participate in girls’ sports may sue for damages within two years.
The sports privacy and fairness provisions apply to both public and private schools. The new act would change the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s policy, which currently states that “transgender student athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sports.”
“All that girls are asking for is a fair shot, and to be given the chance to play and win by the rules in the sports that they love,” but “that opportunity is being ripped away from them by biological males,” said Powell.
The bill says governments exist to enact bills like the SAFE Act. “This state has a compelling government interest in protecting the health and safety of its citizens, especially vulnerable children,” the bill states.
“Only a tiny percentage of the American population experiences distress at identifying with their biological sex,” the legislation accurately notes. “[T]he vast majority of children who are gender nonconforming 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.” Previous studies showed between eight and nine out of 10 adolescents reconciling themselves to their birth sex by adulthood.
“Suicide rates, psychiatric morbidities, and mortality rates remain markedly elevated” over the rest of the population “after inpatient gender reassignment surgery has been performed,” the bill points out, skewering one of the transgender industry’s key talking points. Officials in pediatric gender clinics often tell parents their children have an elevated risk of suicide unless they undergo cross-sex hormone injections or chest- or genital-mutilation surgery. In fact, the opposite is true, studies have shown.
Legislators cited studies that confirmed women who take testosterone stand a greater chance of developing erythrocytosis, severe liver dysfunction, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, increased risk of breast and uterine cancers, and irreversible infertility. Males who take estrogen run a higher risk of thromboembolic disease, cholelithiasis, coronary artery disease, macroprolactinoma, cerebrovascular disease, hypertriglyceridemia, breast cancer, and irreversible infertility.
“The risks of gender transition services far outweigh any benefit at this stage of clinical study on these services,” the bill concludes.
The ordeal of former transgender-identifying patients inspired Click to introduce the SAFE Act in the first place. When he scheduled a meeting to look detransitioner Chloe Cole “and others in the face and see their pain, it’s not just theoretical or philosophical any more. It becomes real and personal,” said Click. “That’s when you know you have to do something for those that others are not properly valuing.”
Despite the documented harms caused by transgender puberty blocks, injections, and surgeries, the bill’s opponents claimed pausing such procedures until adulthood would harm, or kill, Ohio’s children.
“Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care, full stop,” asserted Blauvelt of Planned Parenthood, claiming that when minors suffering from gender dysphoria pursue transgender procedures, “their lives, their families’ lives, and their communities are better and healthier.” In reality, a study by a German facility that carries out transgender surgeries found trans-identifying people felt lonelier and more depressed after undergoing surgery. Some 81% of individuals who undergo transgender surgeries report experiencing pain five years after the surgery. They often report permanent health side effects, including pain during sex and incontinence.
State Senator Bill DeMora (D-Columbus) ripped the bill as “anti-science” and erupted after the bill’s passage. “I’m disgusted” that Ohio is “not a safe place,” he said, speaking directly to those in the gallery. State Senator Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) declared the bill will “add additional trauma” to trans-identifying youth.
In an online video, State Rep. Rachel Baker (D-Cincinnati) said the bill “breaks my heart,” while clearly reading her prepared statement off her cell phone.
But the bill’s proponents say they are acting in the name of science, respect, and safety. People who identify as transgender “deserve dignity [and] compassion,” said State Senator Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), “grotesquely optimistic false promises that are not supported by science.”
Both supporters and detractors of the legislation urged voters to call DeWine’s office at (614) 466-3555.
“We will never stop fighting for kids!” said Baer.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.