Metro Weekly

Ohio Senate Overrides Governor’s Veto of Anti-Transgender Bill

The Ohio Senate voted to override a veto of a measure barring gender-affirming care for minors and a transgender athlete ban.

Ohio Statehouse – Photo: Ohio General Assembly

Republicans in the Ohio State Senate have voted to override Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of a sweeping anti-transgender bill that bars gender-affirming care for minors. It also bans transgender athletes from competing as their authentic selves.

The upper chamber voted 24-8, mostly along party lines, with Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) siding with Democrats to vote against the ban. The Ohio House of Representatives voted to override DeWine’s veto earlier this month. 

The law is expected to go into effect on April 23.

It could be challenged in court, which could delay enactment of the law and leave state officials unable to enforce its provisions, reports The Associated Press.

Under the bill, minors are prohibited from accessing transition-related treatments such as hormones, puberty blockers, and surgical interventions. Additional restrictions are placed on the type of mental health care minors can receive, with therapists expected not to affirm a minor’s feelings of gender dysphoria.

Healthcare providers violating the bill’s medical provisions could be disciplined by their local licensing board, including potentially revoking their license to practice.

The sports ban requires transgender athletes at the K-12 and collegiate levels to compete only on sports teams that match their assigned sex at birth. Under the law, competitors who feel they have lost out on opportunities due to a transgender student’s participation may sue their school, school district, interscholastic body, or any other organization that permitted the transgender athlete to compete.

During debate, Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), claimed that there is no such thing as transgender identity or a gender spectrum, and dismissed gender-affirming care as a “fool’s errand,” prompting outrage from LGBTQ advocates and boos from some people in the chamber watching the vote.

But Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), a member of the LGBTQ community, called the measure “bullying” and questioned whether lawmakers should be focusing on culture-war issues. He argued that the measure will ostracize transgender youth and strip away the rights of parents who affirm their children’s gender identity.

“I hope that this is the last time, this legislative session, that we’re working to take away the rights of people from the LGBTQ community,” she said.

With the override, Ohio becomes the 23rd state to bar gender-affirming care for minors and the 24th state to enact a ban on trans athletes.

Despite vetoing the bill, DeWine also acknowledged some of the concerns of bill proponents who claim that too many doctors are pressured into prescribing gender-affirming care without allowing patients to examine all of their options fully.

He issued an executive order prohibiting transgender minors from undergoing surgical interventions — which are rarely performed on minors in the United States — and administrative rules designed to slow-walk the transition process by requiring transgender patients, including adults, to consult with a team of doctors and develop a “comprehensive care plan” guiding their transition.

Trans patients are also required to undergo a “lengthy” period of mental health counseling before pursuing medical interventions.

Advocates have warned that those administrative rules, coupled with the passage of the restrictions on trans youth, could lead transgender adults or families with transgender youth scrambling to find gender-affirming care out of state, and may even lead some people to relocate altogether.

Dara Adkison, the secretary of the board for the transgender advocacy group TransOhio, told NBC News that they have talked to 68 families of trans individuals and seven trans adults who have requested financial assistance to help them relocate outside of Ohio.

“Their government is forcing them to uproot their lives,” Adkison said. “They’re selling their homes, they’re changing jobs and careers and closing out all of their savings. They’re closing their businesses, they’re leaving their medical practices. The intense amount of personal and community trauma that is being inflicted by the government right now and putting these families through who just love their fucking kids is so cruel.”

Kat Scaglione, of Chagrin Falls, a mother of three children, two of whom are transgender, told the AP that even though her 14-year-old daughter, Amity, would be allowed to continue receiving treatment under a “grandfather clause,” she wouldn’t be able to pursue further medical interventions unless she sought them out of state. Meanwhile, her 10-year-old daughter, Lexi, would not be able to start any medical interventions under the ban until she reaches adulthood.

Scaglione and her partner are considering moving the whole family to a state where there’s less hostility towards the transgender community.

“We’re constantly looking over our shoulder waiting for something to change to the point where we have to get out now,” Scaglione said. “It’s been hard to move somewhere and try to make it home, while you’re constantly feeling like at any moment you may have to flee.”

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