Ohio’s governor Mike DeWine recently signed an executive order that bans hospitals from performing gender-affirming surgery on under-18s. The ban, effective immediately, comes despite the fact that these surgeries aren’t commonly performed on minors.
The order was issued just a week after DeWine vetoed a more comprehensive bill (House Bill 68) aimed at banning all transition-related medical treatment for minors. The bill would have also restricted transgender females from participating in female sports teams in school and college.
The vetoed bill was, however, passed by Ohio’s Republican legislators, meaning DeWine’s veto could be overridden with a vote. It remains uncertain whether his latest executive order is a strategic move to attempt to prevent this override.
Targeting unregulated providers
During the press conference in which he announced the order, DeWine also shared that the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Health and Addiction Services would introduce draft rules to prevent under-the-radar health providers from providing gender-related care “with no counseling and no basic standards to assure quality of care.”
These draft rules include a multidisciplinary team, comprehensive care plans with informed consent, and extensive mental health counseling before treatment. DeWine also revealed rules requiring Ohio healthcare providers to report “deidentified data” on gender dysphoria cases and treatment.
Defending parental rights
On his veto of House Bill 68, the Governor said, “Were I to sign House Bill 68, or were House Bill 68 to become law, 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.”
Shift in stance
His decision has been applauded by LGBTQ advocates, such as Imara Jones, activist and founder of TransLash Media. Speaking to USA Today, she said, “The Republican party has defined itself as an anti-trans party, and for him to essentially decide that his party was wrong on this issue is a huge deal.”
However, while it’s been said that Ohio House Republicans weren’t scheduled to return to work for several more weeks, they are now coming back early with the sole purpose of overriding the governor’s veto of the anti-trans bill.
In order to override the governor’s veto on HB 68, a three-fifths majority vote (both in the Ohio House and Senate) is required. It’s expected that there will be enough Republican votes to carry it through.
Support for families
An emergency fund has since been started by TransOhio, a statewide LGBTQ advocate group, for families who may require out-of-state care and support if the “deeply discriminatory” bill is indeed passed.
When asked whether he thought the signing of the new executive order would be enough to satiate his fellow Republicans, DeWine refused to comment. Instead, he emphasized his commitment to addressing issues in gender-affirming care.
Out of my hands
While consistently advocating for parental decision-making, DeWine did rule out signing an executive order that would prevent others from passing legislation restricting or limiting gender-affirming care. He said, “Whatever the legislature does, we’re going through with this.”