Tuesday, November 29

12 quotes from the 2nd hearing of HB 454 to deny trans youth gender-affirming care

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A second hearing for HB 454 was held on Thursday in the Families, Aging, and Human Services Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives.

At its core, HB 454 would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing gender-affirming care and require staff at Ohio schools to “out” students they assume are transgender to their parents or legal guardians.

Like the first hearing on February 17, this second hearing of HB 454 was proponent testimony:  statements provided by supporters of the bill, followed by questions from representatives on the committee.

A protest could be heard all throughout the session from individuals outside the statehouse advocating for appropriate, competent, and safe gender-affirming medical care, regardless of age or gender-identity.

The hearing included representatives from two organizations declared hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a few moms armed with a ton of unprovable anecdotes, and a host of out-of-state witnesses who travel the country appearing before state legislatures to invalidate the experiences of trans individuals.

LGBTQ+ advocates say the resulting testimony was—unsurprisingly—transphobic.

“I’m not going to mince words—it was really awful,” said Equality Ohio Public Policy Director Maria Bruno in a statement. “The lies uttered today about transgender kids and what gender affirming care is and isn’t were beyond the pale.”

Though there was a lot said over the 3+-hour hearing, we have captured here 12 quotes that summed things up.

1. “When you say ‘we,’ you’re talking about the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that’s been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group for its anti-LGBTQ+ work?” Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin), quickly establishing both the background of the first witness— attorney Matt Sharp of the Alliance Defending Freedom—as well as the types of witnesses that would be speaking throughout the hearing.

Attorney Matt Sharp of the Alliance Defending Freedom

2. “Thank you and have a safe flight home.” -Rep. Sedrick Denson (D-Bond Hill)), reminding those assembled that Matt Sharp hails from Georgia and very much not from Ohio. 

3. “I’m not worried about your qualifications and standards.” -Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) to Matt Sharp, setting the standard by which Republicans at the hearing would use to evaluate witnesses’ expertise.

4. “We have passed other anti-LGBTQ+ bills in this state. It’s becoming our brand. So this is likely to pass.” -Rep. Monique Smith (D-Fairview Park) in a sobering moment, before stressing the importance of increased availability of mental health services. 

5. “Has it been your experience that even professional organizations can be subjected to intense lobbying and perhaps make decisions that are based on the pressure they receive from lobbyists that alter their views and decisions on things such as this?” -Rep. (and Baptist pastor) Gary Click (R-Vickery), the sponsor of this bill, asks a witness, seemingly without irony as he had previously admitted on February 17 that he was asked to bring this bill forward by the Center for Christian Values, an ultra-conservative lobbying group.

6. “That includes the Endocrine Society, your own professional organization, which states that gender-affirming care is the standard of care for transgender individuals.” -Rep. Liston, enumerating a long list of organizations that support gender-affirming care, to Dr. Daniel Weiss, a member of one of those organizations.
“You’re not a physician, with all due respect.” -Dr. Weiss.
“I am a physician, in internal medicine and pediatrics. I’ve been a pediatrician for 20 years.” -Rep. Liston.
“Oh.” -Dr. Weiss, concluding this epic exchange.

7. “Nobody is born in the wrong body. Has anybody met anybody that’s been born in the wrong body? I would love to meet them. I really would. There’s not one single person.” -Maria Polaris, Cardinal Support Network, who has apparently never met a trans individual. 

Maria Polaris, Cardinal Support Network

8. “I think you’re a rockstar.” -Rep. Click (R-Vickery) to Helena Kerschner, “a 23-year-old ‘detransitioned’ woman from Cincinnati,” who provided testimony solely on the care she received after she turned 18, which is not the subject of this bill. 

9. “When kids spend more time outside than online, they desist.” -Jeannette Cooper, treasurer of the International Partners for Ethical Care,  who then suggested that more walks for trans youth would address the struggles they experience.

10. “Absolutely not. Society needs to step up. People need to talk to their neighbors.” -Cooper, immediately and forcefully, in response to Rep. Smith’s question about whether Ohio should be doing a better job at providing more mental health services. 

11. “You are another rock star!” -Rep. Click to Cooper, a Chicago resident who then equated gender-affirming care to dog training and the Holocaust, and then called trans people a “social contagion.”

12. “It’s a point of pride for some of us.” -Cooper about being a Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. 🔥 

Ignite Action:

  • If you are struggling, please remember you are not alone. Contact Trevor Project for 24 Hour Crisis Services.
  • If you’re a young person struggling and/or looking for support and community, you can visit Kaleidoscope Youth Center.
  • Trans Lifeline provides trans peer support for our community that’s been divested from police since day one. Their hotline is 1.877.565.8860.
  • Equality Ohio has a whole linktr.ee with actions dedicated to speaking out regarding HB 454, including how to contact this committee hearing the testimony.

About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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