Nov 17, 2022 - News

📣 "Jeopardy!" champ Amy Schneider testifies against House Bill 454

Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider testifies during an Ohio House committee hearing.

"Jeopardy!" champion Amy Schneider testifying against a bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors. Photo courtesy The Ohio Channel

Amy Schneider has achieved great fame and wealth from her success on "Jeopardy!"

  • But the "best thing to ever happen to my life," she told Ohio lawmakers yesterday, was starting gender-affirming care five years ago.

Driving the news: The Dayton native, a transgender woman currently competing in the "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions, testified against a bill that would ban certain gender-affirming health care procedures for minors.

Why it matters: The proposed law is part of a wider slew of anti-trans legislation across the country introduced despite vocal opposition from transgender rights advocates and children's health experts, Axios' Shawna Chen reports.

Details: House Bill 454 would prohibit access to gender transition procedures for those under 18.

  • It would allow use of "puberty-blocking drugs" and hormones, but only after two separate physicians agree and children undergo two years of counseling related to "gender dysphoria, mental health and the risks of gender transition."
  • Bill sponsors include state Reps. Gary Click (R-Vickery), a Baptist pastor, and Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland). Nearly two dozen other Republicans signed on as co-sponsors.

What they're saying: In sponsor testimony last February, Click accused medical professionals of supporting this care in order to make a profit.

  • He promoted "watchful waiting" as the "least intrusive means of therapy" for youth dealing with gender identity issues.

Reality check: Critics of "watchful waiting" note that some treatments, like puberty blockers, can only be given to kids before the onset of puberty. Such medications, also given to non trans kids with early onset puberty, are reversible and merely give kids more time to weigh their options before puberty itself, which produces irreversible changes.

  • Gender-affirming care is widely supported as appropriate and medically necessary by major health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Over two-thirds of LGBTQ+ youth say debates over state laws that target transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health, according to a poll by the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth.

What's more: Schneider and others told personal stories at the Statehouse yesterday of why such care is critically needed.

  • She described living for years with a metaphorical alarm sounding in the back of her head, but after coming out and receiving care, "that alarm went quiet. I knew peace and quiet for the first time."
  • Nick Lashutka, president and CEO of the Ohio Children's Hospital Association, condemned the bill for developing standards of care "with zero medical input and with no studies or research to support those standards."

Threat level: "I really believe that I'm telling you the simple truth," Schneider continued. "The lives of children are on the line with the fate of this bill."

  • A transgender teen from southwest Ohio who was asked by a lawmaker how the bill's passage might impact them replied, "The hope that this bill does not get passed is what is keeping me alive. I don't want to go back to that place I was before."

Of note: Advocates recorded a temporary victory after the committee adjourned without voting to advance the bill, as expected.

  • Republicans could resume talks later in the lame duck period that runs through December.

What we're watching: Schneider tells Axios this was her first time visiting the Statehouse and testifying on legislation.

  • She described wanting to use her heightened platform to be more involved in public advocacy going forward.
Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider speaks with reporters.
Schneider speaks to reporters in the Ohio Statehouse after her testimony. Photo: Tyler Buchanan/Axios

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