Ohio governor signs order banning minors from gender confirmation surgery as veto looms

Columbus, Ohio — A week after vetoing legislation that would have banned all forms of gender-affirming care for minors in Ohio, Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order on Friday banning Ohioans from undergoing transgender surgery until they are 18.

The bill, which passed both chambers along party lines last year, would have banned gender-affirming surgery, as well as hormone therapies, and limited mental health care for transgender people under 18. While DeWine's order bans such surgeries for minors, it does not limit hormone therapies or the types of mental health care minors can receive. It takes effect immediately.

“A week has passed and I still feel as determined as I did that day,” DeWine said, doubling down on his decision to veto the broader restrictions. “I believe that parents, not the government, should make these crucial decisions for their children.”

In announcing his veto last week, the governor said medical professionals he had consulted told him such surgeries don't happen anyway, and that families with transgender children were not advocating for them.

“This will ensure that these types of operations on minors can never occur in Ohio,” DeWine said at Friday's press conference, adding that the executive order takes the issue “off the table” and provides clear guidance.

The move comes as an attempt by the Republican Party-dominated Legislature to override DeWine's veto next week. The Ohio House has scheduled a session where a vote is expected Wednesday, while the Ohio Senate will vote on January 24.

DeWine said Friday he has also ordered the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to take action.

The departments on Friday submitted proposed administrative rules that would ensure that both transgender children and adults do not receive treatment from what he called fly-by-night clinics or providers outside proper health care systems.

The proposal would mandate a team for transgender individuals seeking gender-affirming care that would include, at a minimum, an endocrinologist, a bioethicist and a psychiatrist.

As part of their care plan, transgender people must also provide “sufficient informed consent” for gender-affirming care, following comprehensive and long-term mental health care, according to the rules. For minors, parents would also have to give informed consent.

In addition, departments must also collect data submitted by providers on gender dysphoria and subsequent treatment, and his plan calls for agencies to inform lawmakers, policymakers and the public.

Unlike the executive order, these rules do not take effect immediately. However, both the proposed rules and the executive order are subject to change even if the executive order is effective – as a result of an emergency order. They still must go through the rulemaking process with various state panels, including lawmakers, and provide an opportunity for public comment.

Even if the Legislature chooses to override the veto, DeWine said his administration will continue to pursue these rules and is working with his legal team to ensure his administration can implement them.

“We're doing this because we think it's the right thing to do,” the governor said.


Samantha Hendrickson is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues