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

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

Schneider, the first transgender contestant to qualify for the “Jeopardy!” The Tournament of Champions and Ohio native said she did not attend the meeting to “condemn the supporters of this bill or claim that they want children to be harmed.”

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

But, she said, the Safety of Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act – which seeks to restrict doctors’ ability to provide puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgery to minors – has put some children “at great risk, and risk that not all of them would live.”

Schneider said she knows this in part because of her own experience. She said her life is “beyond my wildest dreams” today after winning $1 million on “Jeopardy!,” becoming the show’s top female earner); a visit to the White House; and married his wife, Genevieve, in May.

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

She said that all her life before she came out as trans, she felt “this silent alarm going off in the back of my head” that said “danger, danger.” After receiving gender affirming care, “for the first time in my life, that alarm went silent, and I knew peace and quiet for the first time.”

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

“So what I’m asking here today is to take that away from them,” she said. “Please don’t make them go back to that constant sense of wrong and danger. I’m not asking anyone here to change your personal views on transgender people. I’m not here to make fun of pronouns. trying you have to do nothing but not pass a ban that expands the reach of the government, not to limit the freedom of families and doctors and communities to decide for themselves what their children need.”

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

“I never regretted getting it,” Schneider replied. “It improved my life in ways I didn’t know it was going to. I learned who I am, and I wouldn’t be here today — in fact, if I hadn’t gotten that, I wouldn’t have made it on ‘Jeopardy’ !’ None of those things would be going for me right now.”

The original draft of the bill, which was amended at Wednesday’s hearing, would have prohibited doctors from providing puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery related to transitions to minors; a ban on the use or distribution of public funds to hospitals or any organization “that provides gender reassignment procedures to any minor”; and banned Medicaid funding for gender-based care for minors. their gender identity to their parents.

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

The substitute bill would prohibit physicians from performing gender-affirming surgery on minors and referring a minor to a mental health professional “for the diagnosis or treatment of a gender-related condition” without first disclosing the referral to the minor’s parent or guardian . It would also allow a doctor to prescribe puberty blockers or hormone therapy if a list of conditions is met. Among them, the doctor must confirm that the minor has previously received regular counseling for two years regarding their transfer, and the use of the medication cannot “increase the risk of vaginal atrophy, penile atrophy, testicular atrophy, permanent loss of libido” result in infertility, endometrial carcinoma, or polycystic ovary syndrome.”

The substitute also requires physicians who prescribe puberty blockers and hormone therapy to report annually to the Ohio Department of Health data related to these treatments, including the number of patients receiving such care, as well as their ages and sex assigned at birth.

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

“We’ve made a lot of concessions, and that’s bringing that to the middle ground,” Click said of the substitute bill. “Our goal is to ensure safety for those who move and only those who are ready for the move to move.”

Many of those who testified Wednesday after the replacement bill passed said the updated proposal Click introduced would still have a negative impact on the young 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 a two-year waiting period for medication use would “create an environment where it would not be used at all.”

He added that if treatment was delayed for two years, trans youth diagnosed with gender dysphoria would have more depression, which would create another barrier for them to begin treatment, as the substitute bill requires other comorbidities to be treated for two years before treatment.

Accredited medical organizations – including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association – have endorsed gender-based care for minors.

Some Ohio families said the bill would force them to move.

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

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

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

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

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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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