Ohio’s Republican governor on Friday vetoed an anti-trans bill that would have both banned gender-affirming care for youth in the state and prohibited trans girls from participating in school sports matching their gender identity.
The announcement by Gov. Mike DeWine — which was celebrated by LGBTQ rights advocates as a “huge win for trans youth and their families” — came after a series of conversations with doctors and families of trans youth.
The proposed bill, which was advanced by the state’s Republican-led legislature earlier this month, would have prohibited doctors from offering gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18.
“Were I to sign House Bill 68 … 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: their parents,” DeWine said in a news conference Friday morning.
Calling such decisions “gutwrenching,” the governor noted they should “be made by parents and should be informed by teams of doctors who are advising them.”
He decided to veto the bill after speaking with physicians who provide gender-affirming care “at each of the five children’s hospitals in the state” as well as with those who advocate for a pause in the practice.
“I’ve also listened to youth and parents [who] have looked me in the eye and have told me that, but for this treatment, their child would be dead [and] that their child is only alive because of the gender-affirming care that they have received,” he said.
LGBTQ rights advocates applauded the governor’s veto — which can still be overridden with a three-fifths majority vote — saying his decision marked “a major turning point in what has become a tragically politicized battle.”
“Governor DeWine did the right thing by listening to parents, doctors, and young people and taking the time to understand the facts, rather than catering to political expedience,” Shannon Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director, told the Daily News in an email.
“He has given other elected officials a powerful example of how to respond to these dangerous and harmful bills with similar courage, integrity, and deliberation,” Minter said.
👏 VICTORY: You showed up and delivered a clear message to the governor: #OhioIsHome and we won’t tolerate bills that take away our freedoms. We’re relieved to see #HB68 vetoed, and we couldn’t have done it without your support. pic.twitter.com/7N0c7Dxeki
— Equality Ohio (@EqualityOhio) December 29, 2023
Gender-affirming care for minors is “a supportive form of health care” that improves “the mental health and overall well-being of gender-diverse children and adolescents,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Despite being backed by nearly all major medical associations in the U.S. — including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association — 21 states have passed legislation banning best-practice medication and surgical care for trans youth.
On Thursday, a federal judge blocked a ban on gender-affirming care in Idaho just days before the law was slated to take effect.