Ohio Governor DeWine Signs Executive Order Banning Trans Surgeries

Ohio Governor Vetoes Ban on Gender Transitions for Minors, Setting Up Possible Override


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed an “emergency” executive order on Friday banning transgender surgeries for minors, just a week after vetoing a bill that would have banned a broader range of transgender-related medical treatments for minors.

The bill the Republican governor vetoed last week, known as House Bill 68, or the Saving Ohio Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, would have banned medical professionals from performing gender reassignment surgeries or prescribing cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs to minors. At the time he issued the veto, Mr. DeWine likened the provisions of the bill to the state government superseding the will of parents in the state.

“A week ago today I vetoed House Bill 68. A week has gone by, and I still feel just as firmly as I did that day,” Mr. DeWine said at a news conference Friday. “I believe the parents, not the government, should be making these crucial decisions for their children.”

In the text of his emergency executive order on Friday, Mr. DeWine stated that while he vetoed the SAFE Act, he agreed with members of Ohio’s legislature that gender transition surgeries should not be performed on anyone under the age of 18 and said he’d directed the Ohio Department of Health to draft rules to prohibit such medical interventions for minors.

“I signed an executive order just a few moments ago enacting emergency rules that ban gender transition surgeries for minors at any hospital or ambulatory surgical facility in Ohio. This ban is effective immediately,” Mr. DeWine sat at the Friday press conference, shortly after signing the order. “This will ensure that surgeries of this type on minors could never happen in Ohio. I know that’s been one of the concerns that has been expressed. I’ve never disagreed with that. If we look at what evidence there is, there is very little that that is occurring, but let’s make sure, and so that’s what this does.”

While his executive order bans transgender surgeries, it stops short of limiting other gender-transition treatments, like cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers. Explaining his veto last week, Mr. DeWine said that in conversations he’d had with transgender advocates, the issue of transgender surgeries for minors was rarely mentioned, but that advocates regarded hormone treatments as life-saving.

SAFE Act Covered Women’s Sports, Parental

Beyond the issue of transgender medical treatments for minors, the SAFE Act included provisions preventing males from competing in female divisions for interscholastic sporting competitions.

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Explaining his veto decision last week, Mr. DeWine said the issue of males competing in female sports didn’t factor into his decision.

“The second sports part of this bill [is] certainly important, but it affects just a handful, literally a handful, of children,” he said last week. “The part that I’ve addressed affects many more, even though it’s a small number of the total population of children in the state of Ohio, so I focused on that and did not ever get to the second issue.”

The SAFE Act also included provisions to prohibit courts from denying or limiting parents’ rights if those parents decide to only affirm their child’s biological sex even when the child has a conflicting gender identity. Mr. DeWine did not address that aspect of the bill in his veto last week or while discussing his emergency executive order on Friday.

Ohio Republicans Planning Veto Override

Republican Ohio lawmakers have already set a plan to override the governor’s veto and fully implement the SAFE Act. The state legislature has called a special session to hold a veto override vote on Jan. 10.

The SAFE Act passed the Ohio House and Senate earlier in December with near unanimous support from Republicans. Only state Sen. Nathan Manning opposed the bill. The Republican Party holds a supermajority in both legislative chambers and could override the governor if lawmakers vote the same way on the override measure as they did when they initially voted on the bill.

Republican Ohio State Rep. Gary Click welcomed Mr. DeWine’s executive order on Friday but said the order is no substitute for legislative action.

“Children deserve protection that extends beyond four-year increments. The medical community deserves to operate in a stable and consistent environment, not subject to the whims of a new governor every four to eight years,” Mr. Click said in a press statement on Friday.

Mr. Click concluded his statement by thanking the DeWine administration for taking action despite their disagreements over the SAFE Act, before adding, “We fully intend to override the governor’s veto beginning on January 10.”

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