Ohio bill targets trans teens and mental health providers

TOLEDO (WTVG) - A new bill introduced to the Ohio House of Representatives seeks to make it a crime to counsel or treat teens looking to transition to another gender.

The bill, which is officially called House Bill 513 and referred to as “The Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” is co-sponsored by Bill Dean of District 74 and Rob Hood of District 78.

As proposed, the bill would make it a third-degree felony or misdemeanor to prescribe any drugs meant to stop or delay puberty. It would also be a crime to prescribe any other hormone-related medications or any surgical procedures associated with gender transitioning, including mastectomy, vasectomy, or procedures intended to alter the patient’s sex organs.

The bill would not make it illegal for mental health professionals to provide sexuality or identity counseling, but would make it illegal for them to “purposefully attempt to change, reinforce, or affirm a minor’s perception of the minor’s own sexual attraction or sexual behaviors, or attempt to change, reinforce, or affirm a minor’s gender identity when that identity is inconsistent with the minor’s biological sex.”

Local mental health experts are outraged by the bill.

“Basically, what this legislation says is you are wrong. You are not permitted to have any feelings other than what we tell you you can have, and if so then there's something wrong with you," Dr. Tim Valko, a child and adolescent psychiatrist said. "The big thing that I'm worried about is that it's going to make them feel bad and that they're not really a person and that they don't belong here."

Under the bill, the statute of limitations on violations would extend to 20 years past the initial violation. If charged with the felony, violators would face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The misdemeanor carries up to a one-year prison term. In both cases, they would face the possible suspension or revocation of their medical license.

The bill does outline some exceptions to the legislation, including instances in which the minor genetic disorders or abnormal chromosome structure.

The bill has not yet come up for a vote in the Ohio legislature.