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Ohio Republicans celebrate Pride by creepily bullying female athletes and trans people

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Photo by Michelle Myers on Unsplash

Transgender people — especially transgender people of color — have been leading the activist charge toward LGBTQ+ equality since the beginning, literally throwing the first bottles at the Stonewall riots.

And since the beginning, they’ve been the most victimized. They remain so, and Ohio Republicans have devised a savagely creepy, abhorrent way to target and victimize not just trans people, but all female high school and college athletes, by moving legislation with a “verification process” of checking the genitals of those “accused” of being trans.

As many have noted, right-wing extremists who like to accuse others of grooming children are proposing to subject minors to genital inspections at the mere accusation of being transgender.

This is obviously incredibly dangerous, unconstitutional, and flooring in how glaringly stupid and poorly thought out it is.

Nevertheless, the bill was amended into other legislation and passed by the Ohio House 55-28 late Wednesday evening last week, on the first day of Pride Month.

Only one transgender high school athlete who would be impacted by the law is currently registered in Ohio with the state high school athletic association. The association already has a policy in place and opposed the bill as unnecessary.

So one transgender high school athlete in Ohio — one person out of roughly 400,000 young athletes — is being targeted and bullied out of high school sports by Ohio House Republicans.

Now, Republican Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman says his chamber will take up its own trans sports ban proposal that includes that same genital inspection language in lame-duck session after November’s election.

These proposals victimize and attempt to villainize an already vulnerable minority, not to solve any real issue, but for cynical political point-scoring.

In essence, these politicians are saying that exploiting anti-trans hate is more important than acknowledging trans people’s basic humanity. Needlessly provoking more discrimination, violence, intrusion, and hate against trans people to score political points is more important than trans people’s very lives.

And this is a matter of life and death. Trans youth are already at far greater risk of suicide, and studies keep showing anti-trans legislation exacerbates their mental health issues.

After anti-trans legislation was introduced in the Texas House last year, the LGBTQ crisis line The Trevor Project received a 150% increase in calls from Texas youth compared with the year before, with many citing the anti-trans legislation as the cause.

In 2018, the University of Texas at Austin led one of the most ambitious studies on transgender youth aged 15 to 21 to gauge the state of their mental health. Earlier studies already demonstrated that 82% of transgender people experience suicidal ideation, and 40% attempt it in their lifetime, and the rates are higher for trans teens.

The UT Austin study found trans youth who were able to simply go by their chosen or affirmed name and pronouns experienced: 71% fewer symptoms of severe depression, a 34% decrease in suicidal ideation, and a 65% decrease in suicide attempts.

A study released earlier this year found that gender-affirming care for youth was linked to 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality.

But, of course, the Ohio General Assembly is also moving a law to restrict gender-affirming care for youth.

The Trevor Project launched a poll last year to investigate the impact the nationwide deluge of anti-trans legislation was having on the youth: 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported that the debates around these laws have negatively impacted their mental health.

Driving public policy with this intentional wedge issue at the expense of children and their mental health is pretty despicable bullying at the hands of grown adults, and it encourages a lot more bullying.

But of course, this is their way, isn’t it?

They will give teachers guns, but ban books. They will scream “my body, my choice” when it comes to life-saving vaccines to protect communities from a ruthlessly deadly pandemic, and then force pregnancy and birth-giving for victims of rape and incest. They will holler about their religious “right” to discriminate against others, but scoff at others’ rights to be free from their religious discrimination and dogma.

Their ethos is: Nobody gets to tell me what to do, and I’m free to live as I like; but I get to tell others what to do, and they are not free to live as they like.

This is the mentality of abusers, bullies, and supremacists.

As Ohio classical music composer Frank Wilhoit famously put it, it’s a worldview that consists of exactly one proposition: “There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”

They will howl about the importance of their own freedoms while ripping freedoms away from others, and never see the blatant self-contradiction.

How is this possible? Because of the fear-based hysteria in their “in-groups” versus “out-groups” mental construction: Their freedom matters; yours does not.

People with such contempt, such loathing, such a lack of empathy, and such bottomless cruelty for anyone unlike themselves, are defiling their positions of public trust. They are the shame of Ohio.


Ohio Capital Journal Editor-in-Chief David DeWitt has more than 15 years experience covering Ohio government, politics and policy, including education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, state and local government, business, labor, energy, environment, and social issues. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS, and Plunderbund.com. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is a board member of the E.W. Scripps Society of Alumni and Friends. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt.

This commentary was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.


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