Ohio Governor Vetoes Trans Healthcare Ban, Then Attacks Trans People Himself

After shockingly vetoing a bill to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order that's essentially a ban.

Ohio Governor Vetoes Trans Healthcare Ban, Then Attacks Trans People Himself
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Photo:Shutterstock

On the last Friday of 2023, I got multiple push alerts about a Republican governor shockingly vetoing a bill that would have banned minors from getting gender-affirming healthcare. For a quick second, it almost seemed like Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) supported trans rights when he rejected House Bill 68, which would have banned minors from receiving puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery, and also would have prohibited trans kids from playing school sports. Republican state lawmakers were furious and said they’d return early from winter break to override DeWine’s veto.

Unfortunately, the moment was fleeting, because one week later, DeWine signed an executive order that claimed to only ban surgery for minors, but it also proposed intense restrictions on care for minors and adults. So, it’s essentially a ban, and there’s been much less fanfare about it than the veto of HB 68.

DeWine’s executive order bans hospitals in the state from performing gender-affirming surgery on minors—even though no hospitals currently do that—and the ban takes effect immediately. But he didn’t stop there: The governor also directed state health agencies to propose rules saying that, in order to get gender-affirming medical care, minors and adults need a “multi-disciplinary team…including but not limited to an endocrinologist, a bioethicist and a psychiatrist.” People can currently get care from a single clinician, like their family medicine doctor, which led journalist Erin Reed to call this proposal
what it is: a de facto ban. (Those proposed rules are not yet in effect and are open for public comment here.)

Legal journalist Chris Geidner noted that “the moves announced by DeWine on Friday go beyond the legislation he vetoed, affecting adult care as well.” So it sure seems like DeWine threw trans adults under the bus in an attempt to avoid a veto override on HB 68, and it may not even work since the original bill passed with veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

On Friday, he defended his veto by saying, “I believe the parents, not the government, should be making these crucial decisions for their children.” Yes, he said this at a press conference in which he laid out the ways he wants the government to restrict people’s ability to get medical care.

This isn’t the first time a governor has used their sole power to restrict gender-affirming care: In 2023, a political appointee of Gov. Jim Pillen (R) released emergency regulations saying that trans kids needed 40 hours of therapy before they could start medication—that could take months, meaning it’s also a de facto ban. (And because the anti-trans playbook is the anti-abortion playbook, this is all reminiscent of GOP governors using the covid pandemic to ban abortions via executive order in 2020.)

It’s not too late for politicians to add “leave trans people alone” to their list of New Year’s Resolutions.

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