An Ohio state representative is under fire from constituents after leaked audio revealed he hadn’t spoken with any trans people before introducing a bill in the state legislature banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors. He also tried to convince a constituent to de-transition in the leaked audio.
Dubbed the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, House Bill 454 was introduced by state Rep. Gary Click, a Republican from Vickery, in February.
Click said he’d done hours of research on the subject before writing the bill, including watching YouTube videos.
In March, trans constituent Cam Ogden, 22, met with Click to express her concerns about the bill, and recorded the conversation. She was shocked at the lawmaker’s lack of basic knowledge on the subject and the biased motivations of organizations advising him. She was more shocked by who he hadn’t talked to.
“Representative Click actively chose to put forth legislation that will forcibly de-transition all transgender minors in the state without talking to a single one,” Ogden said.
H.B. 454 would prohibit gender-affirming care for trans and nonbinary minors, including puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), medical or surgical procedures (even though gender affirming surgery is not performed on minors), and related mental health services. Healthcare professionals could lose their license and be sued. Public funding would be denied to participating institutions, while insurance providers and Medicaid would be prohibited from covering gender-affirming health care for minors.
The Ohio representative acknowledged he was approached in the spring of 2021 by conservative advocacy group Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) to introduce legislation banning gender transition for Ohio minors. The group has connections to every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation recently proposed in the Ohio legislature.
Click, a pastor in rural Sandusky County, claimed in a hearing the bill had “no religious motivations.”
In the recording, Click said he was trying to prevent kids and teens from making a decision they would regret.
Click told Ogden, “All of it becomes an elaborate masquerade, and you are masquerading as the opposite sex because your DNA never changes.”
Ogden replied she found that “incredibly offensive.”
“People are obsessed with saving transgender people in all sorts of ways other than actually helping them be who they are,” she said.
Click also advocated that Ogden de-transition on the tape.
“Obviously, there’s the opportunity for you to get to a place where you say, you know what? This isn’t right for me. You could still de-transition. You could still desist from this,” Click advised Ogden.
“Did you ever think about taking your life?” Click asked Ogden at one point.
“No,” Ogden responded.
“To what do you attribute the fact that you never thought about taking your life?” the lawmaker asked.
“God,” replied Ogden.
Three hearings on H.B. 454 featured testimony from anti-LGBTQ individuals and organizations, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A fourth hearing for opponents featured medical experts in gender-affirming care, and a promise from Click to include a mental health care provision for gender dysphoria. That language never made it into the bill.
H.B. 454 remains in committee.