Republican governor faces conservative fury for vetoing anti-trans bill

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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is being criticized by fellow conservatives after he vetoed legislation on Friday that would have banned gender-affirming care for minors, as well as transgender athletes’ participation in female sports.

DeWine, a Republican, vetoed House Bill 68 which reached his desk on December 18 after being approved by the State Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Gary Click, is not completely dead as Republicans still hold enough seats to override the veto should they revisit the legislation and vote in lockstep.

In a statement provided by DeWine’s office to Newsweek, the governor cited conversations with Click and other lawmakers; physicians and counselors who provide gender-affirming care at five state hospitals; physicians who advocate for pausing such care until more research becomes available; and youth and parents who have personally had positive and negative experiences with such care, as reasoning for his ultimate decision.

“Were I to sign House Bill 68, or were House Bill 68 to become law, Ohio would be saying that the state, the government, knows better [and] what is medically best for a child than the two people who leave that child the most: the parents,” DeWine said during a press conference on Friday.

Mike DeWine Ohio Veto Trans
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks at a campaign stop at The Mandalay event center on November 4, 2022, in Moraine, Ohio. On December 29, DeWine vetoed a conservative anti-trans bill that would have impacted gender-affirming care and female athletics.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

He added that while there are rare times when states overrule parents’ medical decisions, DeWine said he could not think of examples where the decision is not only against the parents but against the judgments of physicians and medical experts.

“It is very important that we all remember that all those on each side of this issue truly and sincerely believe their position best protects children,” DeWine said in his statement. “These are truly complex issues, and reasonable people can draw vastly different conclusions.

“This bill would impact a very small number of Ohio children. But, for those children who face gender dysphoria and for their families, the consequences of this bill could not be more profound. Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life.”

Parents have told DeWine that their children would not still be alive if they did not receive medical treatment, he added, and he received similar remarks from adults who faced similar circumstances.

The veto was met with ridicule by those who have pushed against gender-affirming care and allowing trans individuals to participate in female athletics.

Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, who previously has called DeWine a good man, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he is “disappointed” in the governor’s decision and hopes it will be overridden.

“This is a slogan, not a justification,” Vance said, regarding DeWine’s remarks at the press conference. “There are many things the law rightfully says no one, including parents, may do to children. This slogan also ignores the extraordinary pressure from interest groups and big pharma to green light poorly understood, irreversible procedures.”

Riley Gaines, a former competitive swimmer who has become an outspoken voice against such issues, called DeWine “a spineless coward that needs to be removed from office.”

Another conservative on X with a large following called DeWine “a weak piece of s***” and said conservatives shouldn’t be surprised a veto came from “a weak-kneed RINO piece of trash.”

DeWine’s office had no comment to Newsweek regarding the criticism of the veto.

Democratic strategist Zee Cohen-Sanchez, founder and executive director of Sole Strategies, told Newsweek via phone that those criticizing DeWine are pushing their own morals often rooted in Christianity when trans rights should be tied to general healthcare, as DeWine echoed.

“We should have a separation against church and state in this country, that’s what we’re founded upon,” Cohen-Sanchez said. “The reality is that HB 68 is truly an anti-healthcare bill. We can mince words all we want, but at the end of the day…if you believe in everyone’s right for healthcare, that also needs to include trans care.”

The line of trans individuals participating in female athletics is more nuanced, she acknowledged. She called trans healthcare more “black and white” while the question regarding athletics should more depend on different age groups and levels, noting a difference between youth sports and the Olympics, for example.

She added that conservatives who push trans-related issues should also push more equity in female sports, including higher wages for professional athletes.

“If Republicans want to win [elections], they should be talking about things that affect the majority of the population, which is not transgender kids wanting to use the bathroom,” she said. “You have to take into consideration that suicide/mental health for transgender youth is extraordinarily high…I see it as bullying a minority population.”

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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Republican governor faces conservative fury for vetoing anti-trans bill

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