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Ohio General Assembly passes bill limiting transgender athletes’ participation, medical care for minors

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — The Ohio Senate passed a bill restricting certain transgender rights for minors in the state on Wednesday.

House Bill 68 is comprised of two acts: the “Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act,” which bans transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming care and the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which prevents transgender girls from taking part in girls’ and women’s sports.

The bill was passed by the Senate Oversight Committee earlier Wednesday before passing 24-8 in the Senate. The bill passed the House of Representatives in June, but it headed back to the chamber for a second vote Wednesday evening over approving the amendments made by the Senate. The House approved those in a vote of 61-27.

The bill will then head to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk, but it is not clear if he will sign or veto the bill. DeWine has previously expressed opposition against anti-trans sports bans, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Currently, under its transgender policy, the Ohio High School Athletic Association says, “Transgender student athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sports.”

For a transgender female to participate, she must either complete a minimum of one year of hormone treatment or demonstrate that she did not possess physical or physiological advantages over genetic females.

For a transgender male to participate, he must demonstrate that his muscle mass developed as a result of testosterone treatment and does not exceed muscle mass typical of adolescent genetic males. Hormone levels are then monitored every three to six months.

A bill that would have banned transgender athletes from sports that correspond with their gender identity, which also included an overhaul of the State Board of Education’s powers, failed in the Ohio legislature last year. The Senate amended and passed the bill, but House representatives voted against it.

Tristan Vaughn, co-founder of Cincinnati transgender support group Transform Cincy, told local ABC News affiliate WCPO-TV she fears the legislation banning gender-affirming care will lead to increased complications for young people diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

“It’s a sad space,” Vaughn said. “And this is why we continue to do the work, because that side, it doesn’t look great.”

Meanwhile, supporters of the bill say it protects children from unnecessary medical treatment.

“This bill protects children. Children who deserve to have a natural childhood,” Matt Sharp with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, testified before the oversight committee on Wednesday, according to WCPO.

This year, there have been 26 bills passed into law in 20 states restricting health care for LGBTQ Americans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Several of these states are having their bans challenged in court.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, an independent nonprofit think tank, there are 24 states with laws or regulations that ban transgender students from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

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