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A protester asking senators to not override Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68 that would limit medical care for transgender minors and block transgender girls from sports is removed from the gallery during the Ohio Senate session, Jan. 24, 2024, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. // Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal.

Fight For Rights: Ohioans testify against Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed rules for transgender health care


By Megan Henry, Ohio Capital Journal

Fourteen people testified against Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed administrative rules for transgender health care during a public hearing.

The proposed rules would affect the care transgender youth would receive in hospitals and would also require medical providers to collect data on transgender health care — both adults and youth.

“It’s two very interlinked sets of rules that overall create a web of surveillance over gender affirming care and among other regulations,” said Cam Ogden, policy fellow for Equality Ohio.

Many present at the hearing agreed.

“They are unnecessary and incredibly harmful,” said Micah Mitchell, who serves on the Board of Directors at TransOhio. “They should be rescinded in their entirety.”

What is in the proposed rules?

DeWine initially laid out his original proposed rules on Jan. 5 — a week after vetoing a House Bill 68, which bans gender-affirming care for trans youth. The House and the Senate overturned DeWine’s veto and the law is set to take effect on April 24.

The original proposed rules led to people submitting more than 6,800 pages of emails to the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

“Any restrictions or banning of transgender healthcare for minors or adults is murder,” one email said. “I do not support the state of Ohio interfering in the medical care or the pursuit of happiness of transgender people.”

State officials released new proposed administrative rules in February with some major tweaks.

Under the current proposed rules, youth with gender dysphoria could only receive drugs or hormones for a gender transition at a hospital that has both a mental health professional and endocrinologist that can treat minors. They would also require them to receive at least six months of comprehensive mental health counseling and evaluation by a mental health professional.

The proposed rules would also require health care providers to report to the Ohio Department of Health within 30 business days a diagnosis of a gender-related condition, gender reassignment surgery, gender-transition services, and genital gender reassignment surgery.

This applies to adults and youth. A health care provider would have to submit forms including a person’s age and their biological sex, but the forms wouldn’t include a patient’s names, addresses or “other personally identifiable information,” according to the proposed rules.

The forms would also require specific information about the treatment, including the names of drugs and hormones.

ODH would share the aggregate data collected with the General Assembly and the public by Jan. 31 and July 31 of each year, “absent any information that would lead to the disclosure of individual identities as determined by the director of health,” according to the draft rules.

People submitted more than 4,000 comments on DeWine’s new proposed rules.

“The Department’s proposal would add onerous requirements that will reduce available resources for this type of care even though it can be lifesaving,” one email said. “Parents and doctors should be empowered to do everything they can to make all youth, including transgender youth, feel loved and accepted, but the Department’s regulations will make that harder for them to do.”

People who testified Monday said they appreciated the revisions that have been made so far, but worry about the harm the proposed rules could still have if they take effect.

“I remain concerned that the proposal continues to unnecessarily strip transgender minors of their bodily autonomy and further stigmatizes an already vulnerable population of Ohioans,” Mallory Golski, civic engagement and advocacy manager at Kaleidoscope Youth Center, said in her testimony.

She shared concerns from youth at Kaleidoscope Youth Center, which serves LGBTQIA+ youth.

“To think that the government is going to have an in-detail log of how many trans people are in a particular area with their ages… that sounds like some kind of history that we learned about in school and we all know what happened with that,” one of the KYC youth submitted for testimony. 

Oliver Licking from Equitas Health highlighted issues with the data collection component of the proposed rules.

“It’s an undue burden on healthcare providers to have to provide that data,” Licking said. “It’s deeply concerning that it’s being presented to the House and Senate.”

House Bill 68 

The ACLU of Ohio has said it will file a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the ban on gender-affirming care under HB 68 before it takes effect next month.

“The lawsuit is continuing to come along,” said Sean McCann, policy strategist for ACLU of Ohio.

He did not say when the lawsuit would be filed — just that it would be before the law is set to effect on April 24.

TransOhio opened an emergency fund after HB 68 passed and has distributed more than $10,000 to families looking to leave the state.

“We know of approximately 100 who have left or are leaving just within this past year, and I’m sure that that number will climb,” Mitchell said. “The administrative rules and the laws keep piling on that are detrimental and harmful towards our community.”

Ogden said this is the 26th hearing they have had in the past year related to laws and policies around transgender people in Ohio.

“The community is incredibly tired,” Ogden said.

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the last five years reporting on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.

The Ohio Capital Journal is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to connecting Ohioans to their state government and its impact on their lives. The Capital Journal combines Ohio state government coverage with incisive investigative journalism, reporting on the consequences of policy, political insight and principled commentary.

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