Ohio Bill Would Require Teachers to Out Trans Children

Transgender kids face a lot of challenges, but in Ohio, legislators are thinking about introducing another one: They’d like to make it even harder for them to access gender-affirming care.

HB 658 would make it impossible for the state to revoke custody solely on the grounds of denying a trans child’s gender and autonomy, in reaction to a controversial legal case. This legislation is extremely far-reaching, and it has serious implications.

The bill, which ThinkProgress calls a “license to abuse,” is a clear reaction to a case in which parents refused to allow their trans son to access gender-affirming care. The child became so distressed that he developed suicidal feelings and was admitted to hospital.

Clinicians were uncomfortable releasing him into the custody of his parents, because the boy felt unsafe with them. Instead, a court awarded custody to his grandparents, who have affirmed his gender and provided him a safe place to live.

Transphobes point to this case as further evidence that the trans community is “going too far,” though evidence strongly suggests that trans kids have very stable, consistent gender identities. Opponents are fueling their case with hate, bad science and more, and they say this is about a matter of a child’s “upbringing,” claiming that it’s inappropriate for the state to intervene.

The bill doesn’t just allow parents to refuse to let their kids access hormones. It also says parents can withdraw their kids from sexuality and gender education, withhold all treatment for gender dysphoria — including therapy, for example — and deprive their trans kids of access to gender-affirming care without penalty. Moreover, schools are required to ”out” trans kids to their parents, and before children receive any treatment for dysphoria, care providers must solicit the consent of both parents.

It’s important to take a step back to talk about what happens when children say they’re transgender. Children with supportive families — and who can access one of the few gender clinics in the country that accepts trans patients — may undergo extensive evaluations, along with their parents. Clinicians note at every stage that children and their families could opt to do nothing, but they could also receive counseling or consider social transition.

As a child starts to enter puberty, a clinic may discuss whether hormone blockers, which effectively pause puberty, are a good option. Children are not offered cross-sex hormones at the onset of puberty, nor are surgeons sharpening their scalpels. Some trans kids may opt for estrogen or testosterone therapy when they’re older, and in some cases patients may decide they want top surgery — but no surgeon performs bottom surgery on minor children.

The goal of gender clinics that offer treatment to young patients is to ensure the best possible outcome for those children, which involves counseling and lots of conversations to decide what’s warranted in a patient’s specific case.

Ohio legislators are insisting that trans kids don’t deserve the opportunity to receive counseling and safely explore their relationship to gender. HB 658 means that parents have the right to deny their children access to educational materials and an opportunity to consider social transition. If a kid doesn’t feel supported at home, but tries to transition at school, educators would have to inform the student’s parents. If a kid wants to talk to a counselor about gender, both parents would need to agree.

And if a child is eligible for blockers or cross-sex hormones, they can’t access them without parental consent — which, it’s worth noting, is something gender clinics already requireA doctor cannot prescribe blockers, estrogen or testosterone to a minor without parental permission, and many clinics seek consent from both parents or guardians to affirm that a child has a supportive family life.

This bill conjures up the horrifying prospect of the state sweeping in to wrench children from their parents at the drop of a hat. In fact, cases where the state decides parents should not have custody because of how they’re treating a trans child are extremely rare, and these decisions are made after carefully considering the best interests of the child.

Trans kids with supportive home lives do better, and those who are denied access to treatment – which could end with a determination that a kid isn’t even trans! — are much more at risk of mental health complications.

Even if this bill is largely a performance, it’s extremely troubling. Parents who refuse to support their trans children are putting them in a very dangerous mental health situation, and denying access to health care in other settings would be considered abuse and neglect. Requiring schools to collaborate in persecuting trans children would also have an incredibly chilling effect, validating transphobic attitudes and leaving kids without a safe space to call their own.

Other conservative states may be looking to Ohio for inspiration, especially given the recent uptick in anti-trans sentiment on the legislative level. Children, with no legal autonomy, are especially vulnerable to this kind of treatment, and it’s important to stand up for them.

Photo cedit: Ted Eytan

50 comments

Catrin Schuetz-Kroehler
Catrin S3 months ago

Sickening

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Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

terrible, ty

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Latoya B
Latoya Brookins3 months ago

Ohio schools would turn in their Jewish neighbors if it was the Holocaust.

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Kathy G
Kathy G4 months ago

Thank you

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Elaine W
Elaine W4 months ago

Children need love, acceptance and approval. This is part of being really pro life along with health care, enough food and housing and education.

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Tania N
Tania N4 months ago

thanks for posting

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Tania N
Tania N4 months ago

thanks for posting

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Laptop A
Laptop AS4 months ago

Thanks

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Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Cruel and sickening .Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

They are all human Better then some humans .Thank you for caring and sharing

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