This is About Protecting Human Life

Supporting Transgender Youth - a person holds a transgender flag aloft

This is About Protecting Human Life

“Ultimately, I believe this [supporting transgender youth] is about protecting human life,” says Ohio Governor Mike DeWine of his decision to veto House Bill 68. The bill, which passed the Ohio House and Senate and was sent to the governor’s desk on Dec. 18, would have banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Ohio.

Before making the veto decision, Governor DeWine says he spoke to many groups on both sides of the issue, including physicians and counselors from all five of Ohio’s children’s hospitals, parents and young people. After hearing these voices, he said the choice to veto was clear.

“Parents have looked me in the eye and have told me that but for this treatment, their child would be dead. They told me their child is only alive because of the gender-affirming care that they have received,” said DeWine at the press conference where he announced the veto.

At PEP, we work with young people who struggle in a myriad of ways, including those who are transgender. We concur with Gov. DeWine that gender-affirming care protects human life and applaud him for his effort to safeguard Ohio’s children.

The Work is Far from Over

Despite this positive development, we so often see a lack of understanding when it comes to transgender youth in the larger society. Sadly, the impact of this misunderstanding can be grim. Transgender people are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide than their cisgender counterparts. In a 2018 survey, 51 percent of transgender male teens reported at least one suicide attempt.

Gov. DeWine has taken a step toward minimizing the risk these young people face by vetoing the bill that would ban the healthcare they need. Unfortunately, the work is far from over. Ohio House Republicans are returning to Columbus on Jan. 10 in the hopes of overriding the veto with a three-fifths majority.

Several years ago, Jim Flynn, PEP’s director, Early Childhood Plus published an article on the importance of educating ourselves so that we can better support transgender people. The piece, “Supporting Transgender People: Know Better, Do Better,” provided educational information about gender identity and suggestions about ways to support transgender people. Considering the recent policy developments, we thought it was a good time to highlight this piece again.

Key Takeaways from Flynn’s Article on Supporting Transgender Youth

  1. There is a difference between “sex” and “gender.” Specifically, “sex” is a term that refers to biology while “gender” describes where a person places themselves on the male to female continuum.
  2. Gender isn’t binary. In mainstream culture in the United States, we have the tendency to view gender as binary: either male or female. Many cultures do not view gender this way, recognizing it as a continuum.
  3. There is a biological basis for gender identity. Science indicates that being transgender is biologically “hard-wired.” Supporting transgender youth means understanding that they are not arbitrarily choosing their gender.
  4. Language matters when supporting people who are transgender. Using language correctly shows respect and supports transgender youth. For example, “transgender” is an adjective. It is not appropriate to say, “She is transgendered.” That is like saying, “she is lesbianed.”
  5. Organizations can offer support through policy and practice. Formal policies and procedures that protect transgender people, such as ensuring bathrooms are constructed to provide privacy for all people using them, helps ensure transgender people feel more at ease in their workplace or school.
  6. Being supportive means you must keep an open mind. In the practice of inclusivity, it is helpful to remain curious and avoid being certain about what another person might be experiencing.

Learn More

Learn more about supporting transgender youth in the full article, Supporting Transgender Youth: Know Better Do Better, or visit our website.

References: For a full list of references, click here.