Health Care

Ohio Senate overrides DeWine veto of gender-affirming care ban

The new measure will become law in 90 days.
The state Capitol in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Ohio will become the latest state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors after the state Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) December veto of the controversial measure.

The Senate’s vote, coming weeks after the House voted along party lines to negate DeWine’s veto, means the new measure will become law in 90 days. Opponents of the measure have signaled they will challenge the new law — which also bars transgender girls from female sports — in court.

Ohio will become the 22nd state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors, though laws in several of those states are on hold while litigation plays out.

But Ohio’s new law differs from many of those other bans: While most states have banned gender-affirming medical care, the Ohio version also bans mental health professionals from diagnosing or treating gender disorders without the consent of a parent.

In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Kristina Roegner (R) said the concept of gender-affirming care ran counter to biology.

“Despite what the liberals say, gender is not assigned at birth, but rather from the moment of conception, you are either male or you are female,” Roegner said. “There is no such thing as gender-affirming care. You can’t affirm something that doesn’t exist.”

At one point, protestors interrupted Roegner’s speech.

Democrats and LGBTQ advocates have argued that gender-affirming care can save the lives of transgender youth struggling with their identity. Every major American medical association has endorsed the practice of gender-affirming care — usually applied to minors with hormone therapy or puberty blockers.

“Politicians have no business banning evidence-based, life-saving medical care — especially when it is endorsed by every major medical and mental health association,” Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D) said in a statement. “We should listen to parents, providers and patients, not willfully and purposely pass harmful legislation that will add to the mass exodus of individuals from the state of Ohio.”

Kelley Robinson, who heads pro-LGBTQ organization the Human Rights Campaign, hinted that opponents of the measure would seek a court intervention. A federal judge struck down an Arkansas law that is similar to Ohio’s version, and courts in several other states have blocked gender-affirming care bans on equal protection grounds.

DeWine is the fourth governor to see his veto of a gender-affirming care ban overturned by Republican supermajorities. Legislatures in Arkansas, Kentucky and North Carolina previously voted to override vetoes issued by then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) and Govs. Steve Beshear (D) and Roy Cooper (D).