Jan 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Ohio House overrides DeWine on trans rights bill

Illustration of the Ohio State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives voted Wednesday to override a governor's veto and enact a bill curtailing transgender rights.

Why it matters: The Senate is expected to also vote to override, meaning minors will be prohibited from receiving gender-affirming care and transgender athletes will be restricted from playing on girls' and women's K-12 and college sports teams.

Driving the news: Following the least productive year of lawmaking in generations, the House cut its winter break early to return and cast a party-line vote of 65-28 in favor of an override.

Between the lines: Gov. Mike DeWine was one of a few Republican governors who had vetoed such restrictions, and he received a flurry of criticism from Republican lawmakers, U.S. Senate candidates and former President Trump.

Yes, but: A week after the veto, DeWine signed an executive order banning transition-related surgeries for minors.

  • He also proposed new transition care guidelines for adults and children that civil rights advocates say would be the strictest limits in the country if they take effect, Axios' Maya Goldman writes.
  • The executive order does not restrict sports participation though, unlike the legislation.

What they're saying: Democrats and LGBTQ+ rights groups condemn these efforts, while medical associations and children's hospitals defend gender-affirming care as medically necessary and potentially lifesaving.

  • Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin), a pediatrician who said she treats transgender patients, apologized on the House floor to those potentially impacted by the bill.
  • "I am sorry that we are here today to take away your rights, to target a small vulnerable group and undermine health care for all children in Ohio. I'm sorry that we could not stop this."

The other side: Republicans contend the law is needed to protect children and girls' and women's sports.

  • "We want them to have the chance to grow up before making any decisions to permanently change their bodies, changes that will impact them forever," said Rep. Tracy Richardson of Marysville.

Meanwhile, DeWine stood by his initial decision.

  • "I continue to believe it is in the best interests of children for these medical decisions to be made by the child's parents and not by the government," he said in a statement after Wednesday's vote.

The big picture: The legislation is among over 125 bills introduced nationwide that target the transgender community, per independent reporter and civil rights activist Erin Reed.

  • Earlier Wednesday, Ohio lawmakers debated a separate bill to restrict the bathroom usage of transgender K-12 and college students.
  • When asked by a House Democrat whether she believes transgender people exist, Rep. Beth Lear (R-Galena) likened gender dysphoria to a child who thinks they are a bird, the Dispatch reported.

What we're watching: The GOP-led Senate is expected to override the governor's veto when it reconvenes later this month.

  • The law would go into effect 90 days from the Senate's vote.
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