'Danger!'  Champion Amy Schneider testifies against Ohio's ban on transgender care

‘Danger!’ Champion Amy Schneider testifies against Ohio’s ban on transgender care

“Danger!” Champion Amy Schneider testified before an Ohio House of Representatives committee meeting on Wednesday against a bill that would restrict gender-affirming medical care for minors.

Schneider, the first transgender contestant to qualify for the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions and an Ohio native said she did not attend the meeting to “demonize supporters of this bill or to assert that they wanted children hurt.”

“I truly believe we all have the same goal here: to keep Ohio’s children safe and healthy,” she said.

But, she added, the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act – which aims to restrict doctors’ ability to provide puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy and gender affirmation. minor surgery – would put some children “in grave danger, and a danger that not all of them would survive”.

Schneider said she knew this in part from her own experience. She said her life today is “beyond my wildest dreams” after earning $1 million on “Jeopardy!”, becoming the show’s highest-earning woman); visited the White House; and married his wife, Genevieve, in May.

“And yet, if all of these things remained as they are now, and the only thing that changed was that I was told that I no longer had access to hormone therapy, I don’t know if I could go on living,” Schneider said. said.

She said that for her entire life before coming out as trans, she felt like “there was this silent alarm bell ringing in the back of my head” that said “danger, danger.” After receiving gender affirmation care, “for the first time in my life, that alarm went silent and I experienced peace and quiet for the first time.”

Schneider, who was one of more than a dozen people to testify Wednesday, said trans youth who access gender-affirming care will have the opportunity to achieve that same peace.

“So what I’m asking here today is don’t take that away from them,” she said. “Please don’t force them back to this constant sense of injustice and danger. I’m not asking anyone here to change your personal views on trans people. I’m not here to berate anyone who whether it’s about pronouns. I’m not asking you to do anything except not adopt a ban that expands the reach of government, not restricting the freedom of families, doctors and communities to decide themselves what their children need.”

Rep. Latyna Humphrey, a Democrat, asked Schneider if she ever regretted receiving gender-affirming care or had suicidal thoughts after transitioning.

“I never regretted receiving it,” Schneider replied. “It made my life better in ways I didn’t know I had. I learned who I am and I wouldn’t be here today – in fact, if I hadn’t understood that, I wouldn’t have succeeded. on ‘Jeopardy!’ I wouldn’t have any of that going for me right now.”

The original bill, which was amended at Wednesday’s hearing, would have prevented doctors from providing puberty blockers, hormone therapy and transition-related surgery to minors; prohibits the use or distribution of public funds to hospitals or any organization “that provides gender transition procedures to any minor”; and prohibits Medicaid funding for gender-affirming care for minors. Advocates say it would also have required school staff to interview students. their gender identity to their parents.

After testimony from Schneider and a few others, the Families, Aging, and Human Services Committee passed a replacement bill that Republican Rep. Gary Click, one of the original bill’s sponsors, said was an effort to listen to critics’ concerns.

The replacement bill would prohibit doctors from performing gender-affirming surgery on minors and from referring a minor to a mental health professional “for diagnosis or treatment of a gender-related condition” without first disclose the reference to the parent or guardian of the minor. It would also allow a doctor to prescribe puberty blockers or hormone therapy if a list of conditions are met. Among them, the doctor must confirm that the minor has already received routine counseling for two years regarding his transition, and that the use of the drugs cannot “lead to an increased risk of vaginal atrophy, penile atrophy, d testicular atrophy, permanent loss of libido, infertility, endometrial carcinoma or polycystic ovary syndrome.

The surrogate also requires doctors who prescribe puberty blockers and hormone therapy to report data about those treatments to the Ohio Department of Health annually, including the number of patients receiving those treatments, as well as their ages. and their sex assigned at birth.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Click said the reporting requirements were an effort to gather more data about transgender people and their medical treatments in Ohio.

“We’ve made quite a few concessions, and that’s to bring this to common ground,” Click said of the replacement bill. “Our goal is to ensure the safety of those making the transition and only those who are ready to transition.”

Many of those who testified on Wednesday after the replacement bill passed, said the updated proposal introduced by Click would still negatively impact trans youth in the state by creating unnecessary barriers to care. Click did not immediately return a request for further comment.

Nick Lashutka, president and CEO of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, said imposing a two-year waiting period on the use of drugs “would create an environment where they would not be used at all.”

He also said that delaying treatment for two years would lead to more depression in young trans people diagnosed with gender dysphoria, which would create another barrier for them to start treatment, as the replacement bill requires that other comorbidities are treated for two years prior to treatment.

Accredited medical organizations — including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Psychological Association — have supported gender-affirming care for minors.

Some families in Ohio said the bill would force them to relocate.

Gary Greenberg, who describes himself as a retired educator, said one of his six grandchildren was seeing a therapist for treatment for gender dysphoria. As a result, if the bill becomes law, her daughter declared she would have to leave the state, and she told Greenberg she would take her with them.

“So we’ve here proposed a law in Ohio that would force three generations – three – of an Ohio family to flee the state, and we’ll be the lucky ones,” he said, because they have the resources to leave while many others do not. t.

Schneider did not immediately respond to a request for further comment on the amended bill.

Ohio is among a wave of states that have considered bills to restrict gender-affirming medical care for minors over the past two years. This year alone, more than 160 state bills aimed at restricting trans rights have been proposed across the country, and 43 of them target transition-related care for minors, according to the ACLU. Four states — Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee — have passed laws restricting gender-affirming care for minors. Judges blocked the Alabama and Arkansas measures from taking effect pending litigation.

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