COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Legislation that would ban various medical procedures for transgender or non-binary minors in Ohio is being postponed until next year, according to the bill’s Republican sponsor.

House Bill 454 — the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act — would bar healthcare professionals from providing gender-affirming treatment, like hormone replacement therapy and reconstructive surgery, to trans and gender non-conforming kids in Ohio. One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Rep. Gary Click, said the legislation will come up next session.

“Rep. Click has made the decision to hold off on HB 454. He felt that it would be too much of a rush to get the bill through during lame duck and still get it right,” Click’s office said in a statement. “The bill will be back next [general assembly] because it is essential to protect our children from permanent medical risks.”

More than 280 opponents submitted testimony for the bill’s fifth hearing earlier this month, including “Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider. Schneider, a transgender woman who rose to fame during her “Jeopardy!” winning streak in 2021, said she would not have had success or continued to survive if she did not receive gender-affirming healthcare.

“Passing this bill would be a tragic mistake,” Schneider said during the hearing. “Because, far from protecting children, this bill would put some of them in grave danger, a danger that not all of them would survive.”

If the SAFE Act becomes law, medical professionals who provide gender transition procedures to a minor could be disciplined by a licensing board. Proponents of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) and Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland), argue Ohioans under the age of 18 are too young to make health decisions that could permanently alter their bodies. 

However, the consensus among medical providers — including Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the American Academy of Pediatrics — is that gender-affirming care is an evidence-based practice with a proven track record of improving health outcomes for trans and non-binary youth.

Nationwide Children’s and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association called the bill a “misguided effort” that could exacerbate harm to LGBTQ+ youth by denying healthcare to a population that’s already more susceptible to mental health disorders.

Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are more than four times as likely as their peers to attempt suicide, with more than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ youth seriously considering suicide each year in the U.S., according to The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ people. 

Learn more about House Bill 454 and gender-affirming care here.