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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine vetoes bill restricting gender-affirming care for transgender minors

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In a decisive move on Friday, Ohio’s Republican Governor, Mike DeWine, vetoed House Bill 68, known as the SAFE Act, which sought to prohibit medical practitioners from administering gender-affirming care to transgender minors.

DeWine emphasized that decisions regarding gender-affirming care should rest with families rather than government intervention, expressing that parents are best positioned to make such choices for their children.

The governor arrived at this decision after engaging in a “fact-gathering” mission, consulting with physicians and families. House Bill 68, which had passed both chambers of the Ohio Legislature earlier in the month, also included provisions preventing transgender student athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at various educational levels.

DeWine explained, “Signing House Bill 68 would imply that the government knows better than the parents about what is best for a child.” He acknowledged the contentious nature of the issue and stressed the difficulty parents face when making decisions about gender-affirming care for their children.

Differing from some fellow Republicans nationwide, DeWine’s veto positions him against the trend of states enacting laws restricting gender-affirming care for those under 18. Overriding a gubernatorial veto requires a three-fifths majority vote in both the Ohio House and Senate, and it remains uncertain whether the legislature possesses the necessary votes.

During discussions with families and medical professionals, DeWine highlighted that most families seeking gender-affirming care were interested in hormone treatment rather than surgical options. He emphasized the importance of a comprehensive process involving mental health counseling, stating that treatment should not be pursued without counseling.

Citing conversations with children’s hospitals, DeWine revealed that approximately two-thirds of children decided against medication treatment after counseling sessions. He emphasized the consensus among stakeholders that a focused approach on mental health is integral to gender-affirming care.

While recognizing potential dissent from fellow Republicans, DeWine asserted, “The Ohio way is to approach things systematically, follow the evidence, and be careful.” He believes Ohio’s approach can serve as a model for other states.

The Human Rights Campaign, a prominent LGBTQ advocacy group, applauded DeWine’s decision. President Kelley Robinson expressed gratitude, stating, “Ohio families don’t want politicians meddling in decisions that should be between parents, their kids, and their doctors.” The organization commended DeWine for prioritizing the well-being and autonomy of transgender youth in Ohio.

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