A transgender Pride flag is covered with the words “Hands Off Trans Youth.” (Photo by Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator/States Newsroom)

Ohio transgender youth who aren’t already on a treatment plan won’t be able to access gender-affirming care after House Bill 68 takes effect on April 23.

BY:  Ohio Capital Journal

Ohioans have seen firsthand how valuable gender-affirming care is for their children.

“My son would not be here if he hadn’t found (gender-affirming care) here in Ohio,” Rick Colby said, talking about his 31-year-old transgender son Ashton.

“You can’t put a price on (gender-affirming care),” Nick Zingarelli said, referring to his 14-year-old transgender daughter.

But now those dads fear for Ohio transgender youth. Those not already receiving it won’t be able to access gender-affirming care after the House and the Senate voted to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68 — banning doctors from providing gender-affirming care to trans youth. The bill is set to take effect on April 23.

“They need this care,” said Dr. Carl Streed, President of the U.S. Professional Association for Transgender Health.

“This care is medically necessary,” Streed said. “It’s critical for their well being. It’s critical for their mental wellbeing long-term.”

Ohio families can apply for the Southern Trans Youth Emergency Project (STYEP), a regional project of the Campaign for Southern Equality. This is in partnership with Equality Ohio, TransOhio and the Kaleidoscope Youth Center.

STYEP can help families find out-of-state gender-affirming care providers and offer emergency grants of $500 for things such as travel and medication.

Gender-affirming care can “include any single or combination of a number of social, psychological, behavioral or medical interventions designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity,” according to the World Health Organization.

A 2022 study published in JAMA Network Open found access to hormones and puberty blockers for young people ages 13-20 was associated with a 60% lower odds of moderate to severe depression and a 73% lower odds of self-harm or suicidal thoughts compared to youths who didn’t get these medications.

“You’re going to have kids that suffer from higher rates of depression,” Zingarelli said. “You’re going to have kids that are looking to get out of Ohio as soon as they possibly can either together with their parents now or as soon as they turn 18.”

Gender-affirming care is supported by every major medical organization in the United States and Streed said it boggles his mind when politicians don’t listen to health care professionals.

“Lawmakers who don’t listen to the best medical practice are causing harm to their constituents,” he said. “The reason that legislators are focused on this is, that for them, they see it as a winning topic to distract from the fact that they don’t know how to govern on any other issue.”

State Sen. Nathan Manning of North Ridgeville was the only Republican to vote against overriding DeWine’s veto on the gender-affirming care ban. But for Colby, this transcends political party affiliation.

“I’m a parent before I’m a Republican, first and foremost,” Colby said. “My son has been on an incredible journey. But we’ve done this together, he wasn’t alone. … The unconditional love that I have for him, that all the other parents have for their children, is what guides us and fortifies us in this journey.”

The Zingarellis consider themselves lucky. Their daughter is already receiving gender-affirming at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, so she’ll be able to continue to receive care under HB 68’s grandfather clause that allows doctors who have already started treatment on patients to continue.

“We’re grateful for that,” he said. “But that in no way makes it OK that she was lucky enough to have been born in the year that she was born in. … There’s too many out there that are going to be incredibly unlucky and all those that came after her in Ohio if this bill stands up to legal challenge.”

Families will move out of Ohio in search of better healthcare, said Siobhan Boyd-Nelson, Equality Ohio’s co–interim executive director.

“We know that many families have been planning for this day, and that right now, families are making some very difficult decisions,” Boyd-Nelson said.

HB 68 becoming law in Ohio will continue to have ripple effects felt throughout the state.

“It’s going to impact the way that physicians and other medical providers do their work here in Ohio,” Boyd-Nelson said. “It’s already raised a number of difficult questions for providers in a number of areas because they are now faced with ethical conundrums that I don’t even think you’d want to face on a law school exam.”

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on X.


Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime. She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.


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