Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order Friday banning gender reassignment surgery from being performed on minors.
“This ban is effective immediately,” the Ohio governor told reporters after signing the order.
A week ago, DeWine vetoed comprehensive legislation that would have outlawed doctors from prescribing hormones and puberty blockers for minors, as well as performing gender reassignment surgeries.
The legislation, House Bill 68, would have also barred transgender females from playing on high school and college sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
The governor argued that his veto “did not reflect one way or another” on the other issues House Bill 68 sought to address and that Ohio needed “to stay focused on the important one.”
“There’s a broad, broad consensus against surgeries for minors, so let’s put that into a law so we can move on and talk about other things,” DeWine said.
Ohio joins more than 20 other states that have enacted prohibitions on gender reassignment surgery for minors since 2021.
DeWine acknowledged that gender reassignment surgeries on minors are rare in the Buckeye State, but said his executive order ensures that the controversial medical procedure will be stamped out.
“If we look at what evidence there is, there is very little that that is occurring, but let’s make sure, and that’s what this does,” he said.
DeWine also announced new rules that seek to collect data on transgender medical treatment in Ohio and prevent “fly-by-night” operations that don’t provide patients with mental health counseling.
“I am concerned that there could be fly-by-night providers, clinics, that might be dispensing medication to adults with no counseling and no basic standards to ensure quality care,” he said.
“It’s clear the most important part is the mental health counseling, DeWine added. “It needs to be lengthy, and it needs to be comprehensive.”
The rules will be open for a period of public comment before being adopted.
The Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly could override DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68 with a three-fifths majority vote.
Lawmakers plan to return early from their winter recess to vote on the override, according to the Ohio Capital Journal, but it’s unclear if they body has the votes to do so.
“I have a job. They have a job. They do their job. I do my job,” DeWine said of a possible override vote.
“My job was to study this issue and decide whether to sign it. As I said a week ago, for me to sign the bill, for this to become law in the state of Ohio, I’ll be saying that the government knows best, knows better than parents, about their own child’s health.”