On December 29, Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine vetoed Sub. HB 68, which would have banned essential health care for transgender youth and prohibited them from school sports. The bill passed the state legislature on December 13.
The veto comes after Governor DeWine, a Republican, said he was visiting hospitals around Ohio, speaking with transgender youth, their families and their health care providers, as well as reviewing testimony from statehouse hearings on the bill.
Gov. DeWine also noted that HB68 would have difficulty surviving judicial review. Federal judges in Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee have all ruled against these states’ respective bans or blocked bans from being enacted. Governors in Indiana, Kentucky, Utah, Wisconsin, and Arizona have also vetoed similar bills.
In response to the veto, GLAAD’s President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis (she/her) said, “The governor’s veto shows he listened to families, providers and all Ohioans who know this bill is harmful and baseless. Transgender people, like all of us, deserve to live free from discrimination, in dignity and happiness. Trans youth deserve to grow up in a state that sees, hears and supports them. This veto is a small measure of understanding that facts matter, that all families are valued, and that Ohio is a place where common sense and compassion should always win.”
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Gov. DeWine, in announcing his veto, noted that he met with parents and families about their lives and the care they depend on to live.
“The consequences could not be more profound… I believe this is about protecting human life. Parents told me their child would be dead today if not for the care they received from Ohio’s children’s hospitals… Parents are making decisions about the most precious thing in their life, their child, and none of us should underestimate the gravity and difficulty of those decisions. These are gut wrenching decisions that should be made by parents, informed by teams of doctors advising them. These tough decisions should not be made by the government, by the state of Ohio. They should be made by the parents, not the state of Ohio.”
Gov. DeWine’s veto follows the urging of Ohio Children’s Hospitals, whose leaders submitted testimony to the legislature, as well as significant organizing and outreach among Ohio’s LGBTQ and equality advocacy groups, including Equality Ohio and Trans Allies of Ohio.
“We appreciate that the Governor took the time to visit Ohio’s pediatric hospitals, including Cincinnati Children’s which was ranked #1 in the nation this year, and reach out to Ohio families of transgender children over the holiday break,” Jeanne Ogden, co-founder of Trans Allies Of Ohio said. “His willingness to learn more offers hope that others will step away from the partisan, divisive rhetoric and consider the individuals impacted by these bills. Preserving the rights of Ohio parents, in consultation with Ohio doctors, to direct their own children’s medical care should never have been a question.”
Trans Allies of Ohio noted how HB68 is costly to Ohio’s ability to recruit and maintain corporate investment and workers. 20% of the next generation’s workforce identifies as LGBTQ. H.B. 68 makes it more difficult for employers to recruit the talent they need, thus making Ohio a less desirable place to do business. Intel, a multinational technology company with extensive policies supporting trans employees and parents of trans kids, recently made a $20 billion investment in Ohio, bringing 10,000 new jobs to the state. HB68 threatens members of their workforce and their ability to recruit employees.
“Not only does his veto physically safeguard the care of transgender youth from surrounding states who come to Ohio for its world-class health care, it sends a message to the nation that these harmful bills must stop,” said Alana Jochum (she/her), Outgoing Executive Director of Equality Ohio and Policy Director at Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.
“When thoughtful people like Governor DeWine open their minds and hearts to listen to those impacted by these bans and the science supporting holistic care of transgender youth, they come to the same conclusion: Transgender kids deserve our love and support–including access to lifesaving care. Thank you, Gov. DeWine, for allowing both love and science to lead you in this moment,” Jochum said.
Siobhan Boyd-Nelson (she/her), Interim Executive Director of Equality Ohio, added, “Thank you to the thousands of Ohioans who called, emailed, testified and rallied against this bill. Ohio is our home, and your voices have been heard loud and clear. Together we have preserved the rights of parents to make private healthcare choices for their children and ensured that healthcare professionals and educators can continue to support young people without undue interference. Equality Ohio will remain steadfast in advocating for the rights of Ohioans, regardless of their gender identity or expression.”
- Every major medical association supports health care for transgender people and youth: statements here.
- Trans youth who receive gender-affirming care are 73% less likely to attempt suicide and 60% less likely to experience depression and report feelings of hopelessness about their future (JAMA 2022).
- 76% of likely voters believe that the decision regarding access to care for transgender youth should rest with parents or medical practitioners (Data for Progress, November 2023).
- Factsheet from GLAAD and Equality Ohio to report accurately and inclusively on LGBTQ people and their health care
- According to Equality Ohio, 585 people submitted testimony opposing HB 68 since it was introduced, compared to only approximately 40 supporters of the bill, many of whom were not from Ohio.
- After the bill passed, Equality Ohio reported that emails and calls poured into Gov. DeWine’s office, filling two voice mailboxes over several days; and engagement among followers on Equality Ohio’s Instagram increased by 300%.