Below is a sample letter written by an Ohio resident to her state lawmaker regarding HB-389.


Hon. Michael Stinziano
77 S. High St.
10th Floor
Columbus, OH  43215

Re:      H.B. 389
“Ohio Fairness Act”

Rep. Stinziano:

I write to express my concerns about H.B. 389, of which you are a co-sponsor, and to urge prudence and thoughtful deliberation regarding the law and gender identity.  H.B. 389 reflects a nationwide trend that is developing at a rapid pace and without careful consideration of how these laws may negatively affect women.

H.B. 389 adopts the term “gender identity or expression” and defines it to mean “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

This definition endorses the segregation of human attributes and behaviors on the basis of sex.  This segregation is the foundation upon which gender is constructed and, in turn, used to prevent women from occupying a position of full equality with men.  The gender construct sets the parameters on the range of behaviors that we culturally accept from and expect of individuals based on their biological sex, leading to assumptions that, for example, male aggression is normal while women are prone to tears.  It also results in our interpreting the exact same behavior differently based on whether it is engaged in by a man versus a woman.

Superficially, H.B. 389 disregards these gender expectations, but the practical application of the bill’s definition will produce contrary results.  In a court of law, evidence of a plaintiff’s “appearance, mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics” will necessarily depend on our sex-segregated construction of gender.

Real-life examples bear this speculation out.  A Cincinnati couple first noticed their child’s gender nonconformity when the child was only two years old; the situation was exacerbated by the child’s preference, while a preschooler, for toys and clothing designated for girls.[1]  Other reported stories are in accord:

  • The mother of an Illinois student in well-publicized litigation regarding access to a girls’ locker room cites “early signs – from as young as four” when her child “played with dolls, begged to wear girls’ clothes [and] insisted on wearing a Hannah Montana wig while she danced around the living room[.]”[2]
  • Diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age three, Jazz Jennings, says, “I always loved dolls, dresses, sparkles, everything feminine.”[3]
  • At 18 months, Eli was “already rejecting anything female.”  According to Eli’s mother, “he would scream, like we were hurting him when we tried to put a dress on him[.]”[4]

In each of these examples, the early evidence of the child’s nonconformity is entirely dependent on a gender construction that separates how boys and girls should dress and play.  Given the age of these children, their gender expressions are certainly influenced by adults who appear to have accepted, uncritically, that “sparkles” and “danc[ing] around the living room” are things only a girl would enjoy, while no “real” girl would reject wearing a dress.

The ethical issues of sending young children to gender transition clinics are beyond the scope of this letter.  The point is to illustrate that efforts like H.B. 389, though no doubt well-intended, serve to push boys and girls – and, later, men and women – even further away from each other regarding acceptable dress, activity, and mannerisms.  The gender binary is thus deepened and given the force of law, recalling a history of discrimination and exclusion that women have been fighting long and hard to overcome.

I urge you to use H.B. 389 as an opportunity for exploration and consideration of important issues that have been, thus far, glossed over.  These issues include a thorough examination of gender as a construct, one that most often inures to the benefit of men; the ethics of diagnosing and then medically transitioning children based on gender stereotypes; and the extent to which gender identity laws conflict with those barring sex discrimination.  At a minimum, space must be given for views like those expressed herein to be included in the public discourse without a knee-jerk cry of bigotry being levelled in response.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.  Should you desire further information, you may contact me at the address listed above or via email at [email address]



Hon. Nickie J. Antonio
House Minority Whip
77 S. High St.
14th Floor
Columbus, OH  43215

Hon. Denise Driehaus
77 S. High St.
10th Floor
Columbus, OH  43215

[1] Anne Saker, “Raising Zay:  A Family’s Journey with a Transgender Child,” Cincinnati Enquirer, Feb. 21, 2015.

[2] See Anonymous, “Our Child is a Girl,” published by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, available at

[3] Jane Mulkerrins, “The Teen Trailblazer for Transgender Children:  From the Age of Two, Jazz Jennings Knew She was a Girl Born in a Boy’s Body,” The Daily Mail (for You Magazine), Aug. 8, 2015.

[4] Hazel Sanchez, “Parents of Transgender Children Share their Stories,” CBS2 New York, Nov. 2, 2015.