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Ohio lawmakers expected to take-up ban on gender-affirming care

Supporters of LGBTQ rights hold placards in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Oct. 8, 2019.
Manuel Balce Ceneta

Joseph Soza, Central Ohio Regional Organizer with Equality Ohio, is worried about the attempt by Ohio lawmakers this week to work on a proposed ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors, even with parental consent. This comes during Transgender Awareness Week.

"It is telling, right, that opposition to LGBTQ equality has chosen one to pour salt on the wound with the timing. Right. But then in addition to that, really to hone down on the access that trans people have just to getting basic, basic care. So I'm very concerned about it."

The Ohio House Families, Aging and Human Services Committee is set to debate the matter starting Wednesday. Soza says some lawmakers have misconceptions about the process for those who want to realize their true identities.

"When a child comes out as trans, you know, a lot of people, I think, misunderstand that, that the social process is the first thing that happens,” says Soza. “And especially before puberty, nothing medical or surgical ever happens to a child prior to puberty. That's standard practice."

Soza says he's concerned about the harm such a ban on gender-affirming care could have on young people and the doctors and counselors who treat them.

"One of the core sort of disagreements here that I have with those who are trying to push this, is that kids are smart enough and know themselves enough to tell the truth about their internal experiences and about who they are,” says Soza.

Soza says despite what may happen at the Statehouse, his organization will focus on speaking up for the transgender community.

“It is important for our legislators to all hear from us. Right. And to hear from Ohioans that we support trans kids actually. And numbers show that usually the folks that want to pass these types of initiatives are actually in the minority.”

Equality Ohio is focusing more this week on celebrating the trans community. Soza says the group has collected messages from Ohioans to write their own messages of affirmation and celebration to trans Ohioans.

The messages will be on display during an event on Sunday to observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“We like to balance out the advocacy and you know, activism and that kind of support and that work that we do. We like to balance that out also with some celebration and some joy, because there is so much to celebrate about the trans community, about trans history and about the trans experience as a whole. We love our trans folks.”

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.