Lawmakers in Ohio are considering legislation that would protect parents’ right to determine if — or how — their children should receive treatment for gender dysphoria, which until June was considered a form of mental illness by the World Health Organization.
Two state Republican lawmakers — Reps. Tom Brinkman and Paul Zeltwanger — authored the legislation, which would ensure parents’ autonomy and prevent them from losing custody of their child for either pursuing or refusing to pursue affirmative treatments for gender dysphoria, WOSU-FM reported.
It should be up to the parents, Brinkman said, to determine if their child should undergo treatment or transition after exhibiting symptoms of gender dysphoria.
“They should have that responsibility,” he argued. “And if somebody doesn’t like it, you’re emancipated at age 18 and you can go do whatever the heck you want.”
The law, House Bill 658, would require counselors, educators, and other government employees to notify parents in writing if their child’s outward gender expression does not reflect their biological sex. The proposal would also demand written parental consent for any medical or psychological treatment related to gender dysphoria.
Brinkman and Zeltwanger said the legislation was inspired by a case in Cincinnati, Ohio, where a judge awarded custody of a 17-year-old child to the grandparents after the teenager’s Christian parents refused to provide medical treatment that coincided with their daughter’s chosen gender identity. Instead, the teen’s parents insisted their child undergo Christian counseling and would not allow for surgery or hormone treatment.
Medical experts told CNN at the time that the Cincinnati father’s refusal to call his daughter — who wanted to transition to a son — by her preferred pronouns “triggered suicidal feelings.” The teenager was admitted to the hospital in 2016 and ultimately diagnosed with depression, an anxiety disorder and gender dysphoria.
Critics have been quick to pounce on the proposal. In a statement shared on Twitter, the Democratic Party used the GOP-backed bill as a campaign tool, describing the legislation as a “reckless, cruel, and anti-LGBTQ proposal”:
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) July 3, 2018
For a party that claims to be "small government" Ohio GOP sure does love regulation. #HB658 is massive government overreach!#Hypocrisy
Ohio debates law to require teachers to 'out' transgender students to parents – ABC News – via @ABC https://t.co/J6OacUvV2Z
— Cassimir Svigelj (@CassimirforOhio) June 30, 2018
Massachusetts Democratic congressional candidate Bill Cimbrelo even compared the legislation to something that might have arisen out of Nazi Germany in the 1930s:
It may as well be Nazi Germany in 1939. 'Cleansing' is gaining momentum. My friends, we cannot afford to blink during this midterm or ever again! Vote for change in local, state, and federal races. #FlushCongress2018 #LGBTQ https://t.co/RKyp2DQnlF
— Bill Cimbrelo (@Bill_Cimbrelo) July 4, 2018
Grant Stancliff, communications director for Equality Ohio, told WOSU that the bill’s requirement that counselors and teachers notify parents if a child’s gender identity differs from his or her biological sex 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 asked. “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.”
This case comes as Ohio is embroiled in another controversy after the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation protecting pastors who object on religious grounds to performing certain marriage ceremonies.
The ACLU of Ohio said such laws enter “uncharted waters by protecting the rights of ‘religious societies’ to determine who they serve.”