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Ohio won’t restrict gender-affirming care for adults but still goes after trans youth

Author: Trudy Ring

Ohio officials have backtracked on a much-criticized plan to impose administrative rules that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for transgender adults to obtain gender-affirming health care.

Some of the proposed restrictions will still apply to minors, and a new law banning most gender-affirming care for young people is set to go into effect in April.

Early in January, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the that the state’s Department of Health and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services had drafted rules that require extensive counseling with a variety of health care providers before even adults could undergo gender-affirming procedures. This came after he vetoed the bill banning gender-affirming care for minors and before the legislature overrode his veto.

The rules as initially proposed would have a written care plan signed by an endocrinologist, a psychiatrist, and a medical ethicist (the latter position not defined in licensing procedures). Under the revised rules released this week, these requirements will not apply to adults, and a medical ethicists review won’t be mandated at all.

Those under 18 will still have to receive six months of counseling before undergoing gender-affirming procedures, but those will be unavailable to minors anyway after the legislative ban takes effect. The earlier version of the rules would have required that much counseling for anyone under 21.

The rules as amended will continue to require the health department to collect data on people who’ve received gender-affirming care and provide it to the state legislature and the public every six months, without naming the patients, but the new version clarifies how patient identities will be safeguarded.

The rules were revised after officials received comments from thousands of Ohioans, many of them trans people talking about how gender-affirming care improved their lives. “I am much, much happier now that I have access to gender-affirming care in the form of hormone replacement therapy,” one person wrote in a comment obtained by The Columbus Dispatch. “Restricting gender-affirming healthcare for transgender people will result in immense, avoidable harm by forcing people like me to once again experience the pain of gender dysphoria — a pain that has driven many of us to attempt or complete suicide.”

Before being finalized, the rules will be reviewed by a group of legislators, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. Public comments will be accepted at that meeting as well.

Ohio civil rights and health organizations expressed relief at the changes in the rules but still said they should be scrapped altogether. “Clarifying that these draft rules are not applicable to adult care was of critical importance and will be a massive relief to thousands of transgender people receiving care in Ohio who have spent the last few weeks scrambling to make contingency plans in case their care is cut off,” Equality Ohio’s Siobhan Boyd-Nelson said in a statement. “However, we continue to have deep reservations regarding the remaining provisions, and we maintain that the best course of action would be for both agencies to rescind the draft rules in their entirety.”

Lauren Blauvelt, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, released a statement saying she was “encouraged” by the revisions but that the rules still “would create excessive barriers for minors in Ohio seeking gender-affirming care.” Sharon Liner, medical director for Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, added, “Make no mistake — an attack on care for minors is still an attack on gender-affirming care.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio announced recently that it’s preparing a lawsuit challenging the legislative ban on gender-affirming care for minors. It hopes to keep the ban from going into effect as scheduled for April 23.

Pictured: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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