Rainbow Rant: Ohio Republicans’ anti-trans bills are a joke

The latest conservative attempts to pass anti-trans laws are almost funny

Joy Ellison
People hold transgender flags during a demonstration.

Ohio House Republicans are at it again. After failing to pass an anti-trans sports bill earlier this year, legislators returned to an older tactic in their ongoing efforts to attack trans communities: going after health care providers who provide gender affirming care. 

The new proposed measure, House Bill 454, aims to prohibit health care providers from offering minors any kind of gender affirming medical treatment, including puberty blockers. It would also make it illegal for school counselors, nurses and teachers to withhold information about a student who is questioning their gender identity from that child’s parent or guardian. Finally, the bill would make gender-affirming treatment grounds for a lawsuit. 

The bill flies in the face of established treatment protocols and the recommendations of health care professionals. The provision that would require school officials to share details about students who come to them seeking support shows flagrant disregard for professional guidelines regarding confidentiality and will endanger the safety of vulnerable children living in unsupportive homes. 

H.B. 454 is terrifying — or at least it would be if it were likely to pass.

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H.B. 454 is less extreme than the Republicans’ failed 2020 anti-trans bill that would have made providing gender affirming health care a criminal offense, but it’s still likely to meet the same doomed fate. 

Republicans might as well introduce bills to allow vampire hunting or vaccinate werewolves for all the public cares about H.B. 454. In fact, those bills would probably garner more support than anti-trans measures. 

Trans issues are simply not the effective wedge issue that same-sex marriage once was. No longer can the Republican party win elections simply by attacking the LGBTQ community. 

H.B. 454 reminds me of an old Monty Python sketch about a certain Norwegian Blue parrot: The issue is clearly dead and the whole thing is getting silly. 

More:Rainbow Rant: Winning the argument for transgender rights

Here’s what’s really funny: Transphobia doesn’t even move sitting Republican lawmakers the way it once did.

Earlier this year, Rep. Jena Powell accidentally poisoned a bill to allow college athletes to profit off their image and likeness by adding an amendment banning trans girls from participating in women’s sports. Gov. Mike DeWine was forced to pass the popular proposal supporting college athletes by executive order. After all of that, I’m guessing that some Ohio Republican legislators want off this merry-go-round. A few are probably as tired of voting for these anti-trans bills as I am of writing about them. 

Of course, the risk of failure won’t keep Ohio Republicans from introducing more anti-trans bills, or stop DeWine from using executive orders to enact policies that he doesn’t have the support to pass democratically. 

It remains imperative that these bills are defeated. Having access to puberty blockers lowers the likelihood of trans youth dying by suicide. It’s no exaggeration to say that Republican lawmakers are playing politics with the lives of children.

But as we organize to defeat H.B. 454, there is no reason to act as though we’ve already lost. Transphobia may become an effective wedge issue in the future, but for now, trans people can be confident that we are winning the battle to protect our youth.

We have a long, long way to go to ensure that all trans youth have access to gender-affirming health care, but we are making progress. The fact that Ohio Republicans can’t pass anti-trans bills no matter how hard they try attests to our success.

Maybe we should thank them for proving, over and over, that we are winning.