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Lillian’s Lowdown: House Bill 68 is dangerous

On Jan. 24, the Ohio Senate overrode Mike DeWine’s veto and passed House Bill 68, or the Saving Adolescents From Experimentation Act, or SAFE Act.

That bill restricts transgender healthcare, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery for minors. It also bars transgender people from participating in sports, all in the name of “protecting” the youth.

Disregard the fact that this form of healthcare has repeatedly been shown to have positive effects on its patients. Disregard the fact that transgender youth are already more susceptible to depression and suicidal thoughts, which is improved by the same care that Ohio is restricting. Disregard the fact this bill will only serve to harm the people it claims to protect. None of that matters to Ohio legislators, who have proven, once again, that they truly could not care less about the wellbeing of Ohioans. 

Ohio Republicans have chosen to target an adolescent population that is 7.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than cisgender youth, a risk that is significantly reduced with access to gender-affirming care, which an overwhelming 93% of trans youth already fear they will not be able to receive. That alone disproves the foundation that HB68 pretends to rest on: this bill does not protect children, but instead actively endangers them. 

HB68 is also unabashedly unscientific. Within the bill, legislators falsely claim that research “consistently demonstrate(s) that the vast majority of children who are gender nonconforming or experience distress at identifying with their biological sex come to identify with their biological sex in adolescence or adulthood,” which makes gender-affirming healthcare for young people unnecessary. In reality, only 2.5% of kids who socially transition end up later identifying as cisgender. 

And, of course, in addition to restricting the healthcare that trans kids can access, they’ve chosen to restrict the participation of trans people in sports. What purpose does this serve? How does “protecting the youth'' mean keeping them from playing a sport with their peers?

Ohio has no statewide LGBTQIA+ anti-discrimination law, incredibly poor outdoor air quality, and a 13.4% poverty rate, but the priority for legislators is not to fix these issues. Instead, legislators have made it their mission to strip Ohioans of their rights.

The legislators who passed HB68 dare to claim that this bill protects children. They have the audacity to claim that they’re saving them from “experimentation.” This bill does nothing to protect trans children. This bill does nothing to protect any child.

If Ohio legislators were truly interested in protecting children, they would expand access to the very same healthcare they’ve chosen to restrict. Unfortunately, the only thing these legislators care about is serving their interests. How is any Ohioan supposed to have faith in a governing body that is more focused on damaging lives than improving them?

This isn’t about “protection.” This is a blatant act of discrimination. This is an attack on trans youth. And it absolutely cannot stand. 

Lillian Barry is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Lillian know by tweeting her at @lillianbarry_.

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