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Dozens of families flee Ohio after anti-trans health care ban passes

Caring mother hugging, comforting depressed upset teenage daughter, stressed unhappy teenager girl wearing hood sitting on bed, thinking about problems, feeling lonely and misunderstood
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A trans advocacy group in Ohio says 68 families and seven trans adults have already contacted them seeking emergency relocation funds to flee the state now that a gender-affirming care ban is set to become law.

“Their government is forcing them to uproot their lives,” Dara Adkison, secretary of the board for TransOhio, told NBC News. “They’re selling their homes, they’re changing jobs and careers and closing out all of their savings. They’re closing their businesses, they’re leaving their medical practices. The intense amount of personal and community trauma that is being inflicted by the government right now and putting these families through who just love their f**king kids is so cruel.” 

The Ohio Senate voted 24-8 on Wednesday to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of H.B. 68, a bill banning gender-affirming care for trans minors and trans women and girls from participating in scholastic sports. The override makes Ohio the 23rd state to ban gender-affirming care for trans minors and the 24th to ban trans sports participation.

State Sen. Kristina Roegner (R), a co-sponsor of the bill, stated before the vote that “there is no such thing as a gender spectrum” and “no such thing as gender-affirming care” because “you can’t affirm something that doesn’t exist.” She accused hospitals of forcing gender-affirming care on kids to make money, though major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics, support gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Meanwhile, Ohio Congresswoman Shontel Brown (D) called the legislation “a cold, callous, and calculated attack on children, parents, and families.”

State Rep. Jessica E. Miranda (D) said the GOP is “literally killing our children” with the bill.

“All to win your Republican primary races,” she said. “Disgusting.”

“Folks, please watch closely at what is happening here today,” she told fellow lawmakers. “Find out who truly cares about your privacy. The so-called party of personal and parental rights and privacy is voting to take away your parental rights. The party of so-called freedom is voting to take away your freedom today, against their own Republican governor.”

DeWine vetoed H.B. 68 on December 26, 2023, saying, “The government [doesn’t know] better what is medically best for a child [more] than the two people who love that child the most, their parents.” DeWine said he decided to veto the bill after visiting with parents of trans youth who are currently receiving gender-affirming healthcare.

DeWine also opposed the sports ban, stating, “This issue is best addressed outside of government, through individual sports leagues and athletic associations.”

While Ohio’s law is expected to take effect on April 24, it will likely face a legal challenge, possibly delaying the law from going into effect. The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already pledged to “do everything we can to fight this.”

Despite DeWine’s stance against the bill, he recently signed an executive order banning hospitals in the state from performing gender-affirming surgeries on minors. The ban went into effect immediately, even though such surgeries aren’t typically conducted on minors.

During a Friday morning press conference, DeWine also announced that the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Health and Addiction Services would on Friday file draft rules that would prevent “fly-by-night” providers from providing gender-affirming care (including medication) to adults “with no counseling and no basic standards to assure quality of care.”

TransOhio’s Adkison blasted this notion to NBC News. “No one is getting pop-up gender-affirming care. We have months and yearslong waitlists for gender-affirming care in this state, and the concept that anyone can get it in a fly-by-night, pocketbook clinic is beyond preposterous. It’s insulting to the bureaucratic mess that those of us seeking gender-affirming care have to navigate through.” 

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