Keep Speaking Out: Ohio Department of Health Drops Plan Targeting Essential Health Care for Transgender Adults;  It is open for further public comment

Keep Speaking Out: Ohio Department of Health Drops Plan Targeting Essential Health Care for Transgender Adults; It is open for further public comment

“Health care decisions are fundamentally private, and transgender Ohioans, like all Ohioans, deserve dignity and agency regarding their medical decisions.” – Ohio Equity

Your voice matters and people are listening.

On Wednesday, after a public comment period brought thousands of submissions from Ohioans, health care providers and equity advocates, the Ohio Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services announced he was reviewing proposed rule changes aimed at primary, essential health care for transgender people and youth.

As GLAAD noted in its filing, and frequently reminds reporters and voters, transgender health care is supported by every major medical association and major world health authority. Read over 30 statements here from state, national and international organizations representing patients of all ages and professionals from many specialties and hospitals, including Children’s Hospital of Ohio.

Revisions to the rules mean the state won’t limit treatment for transgender adults, but will still limit care for children. They also mean a new public comment period is open for additional public responses to the rules.

“The revisions came after thousands of Ohioans blasted the rules in written comments, which the USA TODAY Ohio Network Office obtained through a public records request,” The Dispatch of Columbus reported.

excerpt from The Columbus Dispatch, February 7, 2024excerpt from The Columbus Dispatch, February 7, 2024
excerpt from The Columbus Dispatch, February 7, 2024

“Transgender Ohioans detailed how transitioning improved their lives, while medical professionals questioned the wisdom of [Ohio Gov. Mike] DeWine’s proposal,” he said Sending continued.

Of the department proclamation “Comments revealed significant interest in the impact of the original drafts on adult patients,” so “the revised rules are now only applicable to minors.”

The revisions are now subject to another public comment period. Ohioans and all interested parties are encouraged to continue speaking openly against unnecessary and harmful restrictions (click the red “LAUNCH” button on the right side of the department Web page to submit a comment).

Equality Ohio Interim Co-Executive Director Siobhan Boyd-Nelson highlighted the state’s response to “significant concerns expressed by thousands during the comment period,” calling the revisions “a massive relief for thousands of transgender people receiving care in Ohio.”

Instagram, Equality Ohio

“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 rescind the draft rules in their entirety,” Boyd-Nelson continued.

Equality Ohio noted with alarm the provisions that further empower the General Assembly to continue discrimination against transgender people and youth. The state legislature recently passed a ban on transgender health care and sports participation, and overrode Governor DeWine’s veto of the bill. DeWine said he moved to veto after talking to patients, families and providers about the life-saving necessity of care. In January, he proposed rule changes adding barriers to care for both adults and youth and additional regulatory burdens on providers.

The state legislature has “spent years directly attacking transgender people and ignoring the will of parents, children and providers,” Boyd-Nelson said. “Health care decisions are fundamentally private, and transgender Ohioans, like all Ohioans, deserve dignity and agency regarding their medical decisions.”

ACLU-Ohio agreed, tweets: “We are grateful that community and expert feedback has been included; however, the best way to ensure the health, safety and well-being of transgender people in Ohio would be to repeal the rules entirely.”

Boyd-Nelson continued, “Ohio voters have repeatedly expressed their support for bodily autonomy, and Equality Ohio will continue to mobilize our community to ensure our voices are heard. We urge decision makers to prioritize the rights and dignity of all Ohioans, and rest assured that we will be watching closely.”

Comments about the rules can be submitted through the link on the OhioMHAS website (here), or separately for agencies reviewing rule changes:

The deadline to submit is Wednesday, February 14, by 5:00 PM ET.

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