Ohio bans trans kids in sports and gender-affirming care for minors as Senate overrides veto

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — A state law banning gender transition treatment for trans kids and prohibiting trans athletes from competing in girls’ sports will go into effect, in spite of a veto from Gov. Mike DeWine. The Ohio Senate voted along party lines to override that veto, putting the law in place starting this spring.

The message "being trans is not a phase" was written in chalk outside the Ohio Statehouse after a protest over a bill banning gender transition treatments for minors in May 2022.
The message “being trans is not a phase” was written in chalk outside the Ohio Statehouse after a protest over a bill banning gender transition treatments for minors in May 2022. [Karen Kasler | Statehouse News Bureau]
Republicans in the supermajority in the Senate overwhelmed Democrats, voting 24-8 to override, as the House did earlier this month. Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) was the only Republican to vote against the override.

DeWine vetoed the bill in late December, saying he’d talked to parents about choosing to go forward with gender-affirming care for trans kids and that these are “gut-wrenching decisions that should be made by parents” and informed by doctors and medical professionals.

A protestor interrupted the debate as it got underway, and was removed from the Senate chamber.

After session resumed, Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson said), “It is not possible for a man to become a woman or a woman to become a man.”

“There is no such thing as gender-affirming care. You can’t affirm something that doesn’t exist,” Roegner added. “Gender dysphoria is real and these people do suffer. But what they need to know is that they are loved for who they are. They need compassion.”

Sen. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) spoke against the override of what she called “wrong-headed legislation.”

“I find it very disconcerting that we stand here and make bold statements and not really understand or accept the fact that someone has their own autonomy and make choices about their own medical care and how they want to be seen in this world,” said Hudson. “What we are doing today is creating major harm for a small segment of the state of Ohio.”

Republicans, including Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester), said allowing trans athletes in girls’ sports harms decades of progress for women and endangers their safety. He added that if just one female athlete doesn’t make a team or get a medal or a scholarship because a trans athlete did, “that’s one too many.”

But Democrats noted how few trans athletes there are in Ohio, and that the Ohio High School Athletic Association has rules in place.

Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) noted on the floor that she’s a lesbian, and doesn’t know what it’s like to live as a trans person, “but just because I don’t understand it that doesn’t mean I should disconfirm their right to exist.”

“We are not only overriding the governor’s veto—we are overriding the will of parents and their children in concert with medical professionals and mental health professionals to make the best decisions for their children,” Antonio said.

“We’re not outlawing all trans in the state of Ohio,” said Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), who is a physician. “We’re just asking them to wait till you’re 18, wait till you have the ability to make the decision.”

“We tell parents what to do all the time,” Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) said, citing smoking, truancy, work and driving laws. “This isn’t any different.”

Sen. Bill Demora (D-Columbus) called the bill “anti science and very hateful.”

He added, “After having the least productive year of legislating since 1955, the first thing we do when we get back in this session is to bully transgender people.”

There is no emergency clause, so the law will take effect in 90 days. The veto override makes Ohio the 24th state to ban trans kids from girls’ sports, and the 23rd state to ban gender-affirming care for minors.