Adults would not have limited access to transgender health care, and transgender youth would not need to get medical consent from a bioethicist before starting treatment, under Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s revised administrative rules on care to transgender people.
The Ohio Department of Health released the proposed new administrative rules Wednesday after reviewing them thousands of comments submitted. DeWine laid The original proposed rules in January.5 — a week after vetoing a bill that would have banned gender-based care for trans youth.
“Clarifying that these draft rules do not apply to adult care was critically important and will be a massive relief to the thousands of transgender people receiving care in Ohio who have spent the past few weeks trying to make plans emergency in case their care is interrupted. ,” Equality Ohio Interim Co-Executive Director Siobhan Boyd-Nelson said in a statement.
“However, we continue to have deep reservations about the remaining provisions, and we think the best course of action would be for both agencies to repeal the draft rules in their entirety.”
The revised rules have been submitted to the Office of Joint Initiatives (CSI) for review. People can submit comments on the revised rules by sending email [email protected] OR [email protected] until Wednesday at 5 p.m
Transgender Health Care
The original proposed rules applied to transgender adults, but the revised rules apply only to the treatment of youth with gender dysphoria.
Kathryn Poe, a researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, was relieved to see the provisions restricting transgender adults.
“My wife is a trans woman,” Poe said. “I immediately went to the other room and hugged my wife. … The provisions for adults were so extreme and so surprising that I think it just really affected members of the community for weeks that it was hanging over people’s heads.”
Transgender advocates said the initial proposed rules around health care for transgender adults would have made Ohio one of the most restrictive states when it comes to access to care.
“I don’t think we’re completely out of the woods yet,” Poe said. “But I feel very optimistic about the near future, which is good.”
However, when it comes to the proposed rules regarding children, Poe said they are “highly unnecessary, especially given the passage of HB 68.”
House Bill 68 bans all gender-based care for transgender youth. DeWine vetoed HB 68but lawmakers overrode his veto and the bill is set to become law on April 23 The ACLU of Ohio plans to take legal action and file a lawsuit in the coming weeks.
HB 68 has a grandfather clause that would allow youth already receiving care to continue treatment, but Poe said the proposed new rules would apply to them as well.
“Those who were grandfathered in — who thought they would still be able to get treatment — these rules still affect those children, and that’s still unacceptable,” Poe said.
“We still believe the best course of action is to repeal these rules entirely and allow the standards of care already in place to continue,” Jennifer Kuhn, spokeswoman for the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, said in a statement.
The proposed rules say that transgender youth can receive drugs or hormones for a gender transition only at a hospital that has a mental health professional and endocrinologist who can treat minors. They must also receive at least six months of comprehensive mental health counseling and evaluation by a mental health professional.
“Recognizing concerns about the limited availability of some medical specialties, the options for mental health professionals involved in the required multidisciplinary care team were expanded and modified,” the ODH letter said.
Vincent-Natasha Gay, a trans adult who lives in central Ohio, said the proposed rules are “attacking a very, very, very small group of children.”
“I just feel for these kids who just want puberty blockers so those trans girls don’t start getting facial hair or a deep voice and then have all that dysphoria that comes with that or boys breast developing trans.” Gay said.
The revised proposed rules no longer require obtaining medical consent from a bioethicist before starting treatment.
“We complained about it so much that you had to take it back,” said Ares Page, a transgender man from Akron.
Poe is pleased that this requirement was removed.
“I think it was really unnecessary,” Poe said. “I think there was so much ambiguity and confusion about exactly what their role was going to be that I’m really glad they reacted to that and just decided to remove it completely.”
Data collection for transgender health care — which includes adults and youth — remains in the proposed rules with some changes.
“In response to privacy concerns, the rules are now even clearer that the data collected will not identify individual patients,” ODH the letter said.
A health care provider will be required to report to ODH within 30 business days a diagnosis of a gender-related condition, gender reassignment surgery, gender transition services, and genital sex reassignment surgery.
The health care provider must also submit forms including a person’s age and biological sex, but the forms would not include patient names, addresses or “other personally identifiable information,” according to the proposed rules.
The forms would also ask for specific information about the treatment, including the names of drugs and hormones.
According to the draft rules.
The data collection portion of the rule deals with transgender people and Ohio attorneys.
“They are very vague about why they are collecting this data,” Gay said. “What is the data and why is there a need to collect data? … It just raises a lot of questions and makes me fear that they are using this data to continue to discriminate against transgender adults and minors.”
“They’re quantifying how many trans people are here,” Page said. “Whenever a population begins to be counted, it is for a reason. You want to know how many of us there are for reasons that cause suspicion.”
Poe said the data collection piece is “very, very clearly a malicious attempt to create a narrative about trans people.”
Poe said it is normal for a transgender person to go off medication for a period of time or take a lower dose of medication during the course of treatment.
“It’s kind of trying to cite all these things as evidence of detransitioning, because the definition of detransitioning is withholding or withholding treatment for gender-affirming care,” Poe said. “…But the way this data tracking would work is that this could very easily show up while someone is detransitioning.”
Poe wonders what lawmakers would do with that data next.
“They can very easily claim, without clarification, that this is a detransition,” Poe said. “And we know that’s not necessarily true, that it’s much more nuanced than that.”
Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry in X.
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