Ohio Governor Vetoes Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Minors

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Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine vetoed a bill Friday that would have banned gender-affirming care for minors, bucking his party as it seeks to make fear-mongering about transgender youth central to its 2024 election strategy.

“Were I to sign House Bill 68, or were House Bill 68 to become law, Ohio would be saying that the state—that the government—knows better what is medically best for a child than the two people who love that child the most: the parents,” DeWine said at a press conference Friday. “I cannot sign this bill as it is currently written.”

The governor said he made his decision after meeting with families “both positively and negatively affected” by gender-affirming care. “Parents have looked me in the eye and told me that but for this treatment, their child would be dead,” he said. “And youth who are transgender have told me they are thriving today because of their transition.”

The bill passed the Ohio legislature, which is gerrymandered to the hilt to protect a Republican supermajority, in December. Public testimony about the bill’s effects stretched for nearly an entire day, with more than 500 people coming out against the legislation.

In his Friday comments, DeWine said that the bill, which also would have banned transgender girls from participating on athletic teams that align with their gender identity, would only impact a relatively small number of Ohio minors. “But for those children who face gender dysphoria and for their families,” he said, “the consequences of this bill could not be more profound.” The governor added that the decision was “about protecting human life.”

The Ohio GOP has enough of a majority to override DeWine’s veto, but it isn’t yet obvious when or if that might happen.

Though DeWine sank the bill, he did say he shared the concerns of the bill’s proponents, and proposed several administrative rules that would, he said, address their goals and have a better chance of surviving judicial review. Those rules include pushing state agencies to ban gender-affirming surgeries for minors and directing them to collect comprehensive data on both minors and adults who seek out gender-affirming care. The governor also proposed creating rules to prevent “pop up clinics or fly-by-night operations.”

The move was a rare rebuke of the GOP’s relentless march toward criminalizing various forms of gender-affirming care for minors and adults. According to a tally maintained by The New York Times, more than 20 states now have laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care. Before this year, that number was only three.

Ohio’s Democratic Minority Leader, Nickie Antonio, released a statement praising DeWine’s veto. “I want to thank the thousands of advocates, kids, parents, religious and business leaders who spoke out against this dangerous bill,” Antonio said. “This veto belongs to you.”

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Ohio Governor Vetoes Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Minors

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