Ohio's Republican Governor Mike DeWine vetoed legislation that would have restricted gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary youth. Announced on Friday, the governor's decision counters a bill passed by state lawmakers just before the holiday break, which sought to prohibit hormone blockers, hormone replacement therapy, medical or surgical procedures, and some mental health services for these individuals.
Governor DeWine emphasized the importance of parental guidance in such matters, stating that signing the bill would imply the state knows better than parents regarding the welfare of their children. This veto is particularly notable given the recent trend in several states passing laws against gender-affirming care for youth.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, approximately 20 states have enacted such bans.
The Human Impact and Advocacy Response
The Human Rights Campaign praised the governor's veto, calling it a significant victory for transgender youth and their families in Ohio.
In his news conference, Governor DeWine shared poignant accounts from individuals who had transitioned, expressing that they are thriving because of their gender transition. He relayed heartfelt conversations with parents who believed that gender-affirming care was critical to their children's survival.
Governor DeWine also highlighted stories from adults who stated that such care during their teenage years was pivotal in preventing them from taking their own lives. For him, the decision to veto the bill was about "protecting human life," recognizing the profound consequences the legislation could have on transgender minors and their families in Ohio.
Highlighting Mental Health Concerns
This decision comes against the backdrop of increased mental health concerns among transgender and nonbinary youth. Studies, including a 2018 publication in the journal Pediatrics, have shown alarmingly high rates of suicide and attempted suicide among this demographic.
Specifically, the study found that 50.8% of transgender male teens and 29.9% of transgender female teens had attempted to take their own lives. Governor DeWine's veto is a significant step in acknowledging and addressing the complex needs of transgender and nonbinary youth.
It reflects a growing understanding of the importance of individualized care and the role of family in supporting young people through their gender identity journeys.