Guest Commentary: Ohio Legislation Presents Hellscape Week Ahead for Trans Ohioans

Trans Ohioans and their allies need to navigate a legislative hellscape of a week.

click to enlarge Trans Awareness Week begins on Nov. 13. - Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona, Unsplash
Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona, Unsplash
Trans Awareness Week begins on Nov. 13.

Trans Awareness Week kicked off on Nov. 13 and culminates in over a dozen Trans Day of Remembrance events across Ohio at the end of the week.

But to get there, trans Ohioans and their allies need to navigate a legislative hellscape of a week.

Here’s what the week ahead looks like:

Monday, Nov. 14

The Executive Committee of the Ohio Board of Education will be meeting for the second time to discuss the “Resolution to Support Parents, Schools, and Districts in Rejecting Harmful, Coercive, and Burdensome Gender Identity Policies” proposed in September by conservative Madison County State School Board member Brendan Shea.

That resolution calls on schools to reject Title IX language that would protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination.

It has now spawned five(!) different versions to consider: two from member-at-large Mike Toal banning trans athletic participation, two from board president Charlotte McGuire who is now on the record saying she opposes LGBTQ+ protections, and one from Dr. Antoinette Miranda that would actually affirm LGBTQ+ students.

The meeting is expected to last four hours and either Shea’s original resolution or one of the new proposals is expected to emerge, which brings us to…

Tuesday, Nov. 15

The full state Board of Education will meet on Nov. 15 and will likely consider whatever resolution survived the Executive Committee on Nov. 14.

There will again be opportunities for public participation, which yielded more than eight hours of testimony over the past two meetings. While September’s meeting featured public comments almost entirely against Shea’s resolution, the testimony at the October meeting was decidedly more mixed. A lot of pretty awful things were said about trans individuals by a host of speakers, including Pastor Representative Gary Click, which brings us to…

Wednesday, Nov. 16

Over at the Ohio statehouse, the Families, Aging, and Human Services committee will have their fifth hearing of HB 454, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act. If passed, HB 454 would ban gender-affirming care for Ohio’s youth and force teachers and school staff to out trans youth to their parents. Bill sponsor Gary Click has previously testified that the bill was brought to him by the Center for Christian Virtue.

The first three proponent hearings in February and May featured horrible testimony, including gender-affirming care being compared to dog training, an analogy to the Holocaust, and a host of parents of trans children misgendering their children — literally — hundreds of time.

The fourth hearing on June 1 — Happy Pride Month! — was the first opponent hearing and featured medical care providers and hospital representatives testifying on the realities of providing gender-affirming care in an attempt combat the misinformation that had been previously presented by witnesses and Republican representatives on the committee.

Wednesday’s fifth hearing is again opponent testimony and will largely feature LGBTQ+ advocates, likely including Equality Ohio, the ACLU, and TransOhio. It has already been announced that this hearing will have a hard stop of two hours, the same as the June meeting. Only the opponent testimony sessions have thus far been limited in time.

There will again be a pro-trans-youth rally held outside the statehouse during the hearing. More info on their Facebook event page.

Sunday, Nov. 20

Trans Day of Remembrance events could not be more needed as 2022 has been another brutal year for trans Americans. On Sept. 21, Semaj Billingslea, 33, was shot to death in Florida, becoming the 32nd transgender person reported as a victim of fatal violence in 2022, according to the blog Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, which tracks anti-trans murders. 

Ignite Action:

  • Regarding the Board of Education resolutions, Honesty for Ohio Education presents the following three actions:
    • Contact Executive Committee Members. Contact info here.
    • Show up to the Executive Committee meeting. Info here.
    • Continue submitting testimony for the November Board. Instructions here.
  • Regarding HB 454, Equality Ohio recommends the following:
    • PACK THE HOUSE! Wear rainbows and fill Hearing Room 121 at the statehouse at 10 a.m. to show the power of our community and support those speaking. You can also watch it on the Ohio Channel.
    • Contact the committee NOW! You can call Chair Manchester, send the Committee a Message Opposing HB 454 or call the Committee Members.
    • Speak up on social media and in your personal networks. The people who want to ban gender-affirming care rely on other people’s lack of familiarity with supportive care for transgender people to avoid criticism. We know better. Make sure everyone in your personal network does, too.
This story was originally published in The Buckeye Flame and republished here with permission.

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