Two Ohio Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that they say would protect the rights of parents who oppose efforts to help their transgender children transition. But LGBTQ rights groups have come out strongly against the proposal.
State Rep. Tom Brinkman says his bill, HB 658, was inspired by a Cincinnati case where a juvenile court judge turned custody of a 17-year-old over to the teen’s grandparents, who supported the child’s gender identity.
The teen’s parents insisted the teen receive Christian counseling instead of hormone replacement therapy or surgery. According to CNN, medical experts testified that “the father's ongoing refusal to call the child by his chosen name and the parents' rejection of the teen's gender identity have triggered suicidal feelings.”
Brinkman says parents have the right to decide whether they want their minor child to undergo treatment or to transition.
“They should have that responsibility,” Brinkman says. “And if somebody doesn't like it, you're emancipated at age 18 and you can go do whatever the heck you want.”
The bill, jointly sponsored by Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, also requires teachers, counselors and other public employees to notify parents in writing if their child’s expressed gender identity doesn’t match their biological gender. And it requires written parental consent for any medical, psychological or other treatment related to gender dysphoria.
Equality Ohio says the bill could deny necessary medical care to trans kids under 18. Grant Stancliff of Equality Ohio says its requirement that teachers and other public employees notify parents in writing if their expressed sexual identity doesn’t match their biological gender is confusing.
“If a girl wants to enroll in shop class, is that something where she’s going to get a letter sent home?” Stancliff says. “If Billy doesn’t want to play football, does he get a letter sent home? Not only does it mess with this kind of access to health care, but it creates these weird kind of policing of behaviors.”
Though Zeltwanger and Brinkman say the bill is about “parental rights,” Equality Ohio says it targets only transgender youth, who are very vulnerable, and it’s the only bill like this in the country.
ACLU and Lambda Legal are currently suing the state of Ohio for blocking transgender people from changing their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity.