“Healthcare decisions are fundamentally private and transgender Ohioans, like all Ohioans, deserve dignity and agency with regards to their medical decisions.” – Equality Ohio
Your voice matters, and people are listening.
On Wednesday, after a public comment period brought out thousands of submissions from Ohioans, health care providers, and equality advocates, the Ohio Department of Health and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services announced it was revising proposed rule changes targeting mainstream, essential health care for transgender people and youth.
As GLAAD noted in its submission, and reminds reporters and voters frequently, transgender health care is supported by every major medical association and leading world health authority. Read the 30+ statements here from state, national and international organizations representing patients of all ages and professionals from multiple specialties and hospitals, including Ohio Children’s Hospital.
The rule revisions mean the state will not restrict treatment for transgender adults, but would still limit care for children. They also mean a new public comment period is open for additional public response to the rules.
“The revisions came after thousands of Ohioans blasted the rules in written comments, which the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau obtained through a public records request,” the Columbus Dispatch reported.
“Transgender Ohioans detailed how transitioning improved their lives, while medical professionals questioned the wisdom of [Ohio Gov. Mike] DeWine’s proposal,” the Dispatch continued.
The department’s announcement stated “The comments revealed a significant interest in the original drafts’ impact on adult patients,” so the “revised rules are now applicable only to minors.”
The revisions are now subject to another public comment period. Ohioans and all interested parties are urged to continue speaking out against the unnecessary and harmful restrictions (click the red “LAUNCH” button on the right side of the department website to submit comment).
Equality Ohio’s Co-Interim Executive Director Siobhan Boyd-Nelson highlighted the responsiveness of the state to “the significant concerns voiced by thousands during the comment period,” calling the revisions “a massive relief to thousands of transgender people receiving care in Ohio.”
“However, we continue to have deep reservations regarding the remaining provisions, and we maintain that the best course of action would be for both agencies to rescind the draft rules in their entirety,” Boyd-Nelson continued.
Equality Ohio noted with alarm the provisions that further empower the General Assembly to continue discriminating against transgender people and youth. The state legislature recently passed a ban on transgender health care and sports participation, and overrode Gov. DeWine’s veto of the bill. DeWine said he was moved to veto after talking with patients, families and providers about the lifesaving necessity of the care. In January, he proposed the rule changes adding barriers to care for both adults and youth and additional regulatory burden to providers.
The state legislature has “spent years directly attacking transgender people and ignoring the will of parents, kids, and providers,” Boyd-Nelson said. “Healthcare decisions are fundamentally private and transgender Ohioans, like all Ohioans, deserve dignity and agency with regards to their medical decisions.”
ACLU-Ohio agreed, tweeting: “We are grateful that community and expert feedback were incorporated; however, the best way to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of transgender Ohioans would be to rescind the rules in their entirety.”
Boyd-Nelson continued, “Ohio voters have consistently expressed their support for bodily autonomy, and Equality Ohio will continue mobilizing our community to ensure our voices are heard. We urge decision-makers to prioritize the rights and dignity of all Ohioans, and rest assured, we will be vigilantly watching.”
Comments regarding the rules can be submitted through the link on the OhioMHAS website (here), or separately to the agencies reviewing the rule changes:
- OhioMHAS at MH-SOT-GTC1email@example.com
- Common Sense Initiative Office at CSIPublicComments@governor.ohio.gov
The deadline to submit is Wednesday, February 14, by 5pm ET.