DeWine wants rules for treatment for trans kids in Ohio. Lawmakers may override his veto instead
When Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill that would have banned trans kids from receiving gender transition treatments or playing on girls’ sports teams, he also said he wants administrative rules drawn to ban gender reassignment surgeries on children under 18. But there's a question about whether Ohio lawmakers will cooperate with DeWine in that effort.
On Friday when DeWine vetoed the bill, he said he agreed with state lawmakers that gender reassignment surgeries should not be done on kids - which hospitals say isn’t happening. But he said when he talked with families who were imploring him to veto the bill, none of their children under 18 had gone through any of those surgeries.
“All of the children’s hospitals say, ‘we don’t do surgeries.’ Look, let’s make sure there are no surgeries done my anybody and so that’s what we propose here," DeWine said.
DeWine proposed drafting a rule through the state’s administrative agencies to ban gender reassignment surgeries on minors. But DeWine also wants more information about medical care for trans kids, saying he’s concerned they might not get the care they need in the future.
“Those who had positive experiences all noted that they received significant counseling, therapy, and consultation as a family before discussing even the possibility of other treatments. Conversely, those who had negative experiences report that they did not receive, did not receive adequate counseling. This adequate counseling is absolutely essential to getting this right,” DeWine said. “Therefore, I am directing our agencies to draft rules that establish restrictions that would prevent pop-up clinics or fly-by-night operations and provide important protections for Ohio children and their families and for adults.”
When this bill was debated in committee, there often wasn’t solid data to answer key questions about which gender affirming services were being provided to kids and how they were being provided. DeWine wants data.
“I share with the legislature their concern that there is no comprehensive data today regarding persons who receive this care nor independent analysis of any such data,” DeWine said. “Therefore, I am directing our agencies to immediately draft rules to require reporting to the relevant agencies and to report this data to report this data to the General Assembly and the public every six months. We will do this. We will do this not only when the patients are minors but also when the patients are adults.”
DeWine said he thinks the administrative rules he is proposing are the best approach to speak to specific concerns that were espoused by his fellow GOP lawmakers.
“I invite the members of the General Assembly to meet with us, to collaborate, to collaborate in the rule drafting and to move this process forward," DeWine said.
DeWine explained he wants to do this in early January. Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), the first openly LGBTQ lawmaker to serve in that position, said she has already told DeWine she’s willing to help.
“I would be happy to be a part of that process if I could be helpful as well as certainly directing other folks from the LGBTQ community to be able to have something to say in that process," Antonio said.
But the key question now is whether Republicans will work with DeWine on making those rules. Both House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) immediately noted after DeWine’s veto the bill passed both chambers with veto-proof majorities.
Aaron Baer, president of the conservative policy group the Center for Christian Virtue, hopes a veto override will happen because he said administrative rules are not good enough.
“At the end of the day, if a governor can put these things in place by himself that means the next governor can come in and repeal them," Baer said.
Some GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Josh Williams (R-Sylvania), immediately went on record saying they want to override Dewine’s veto rather than consider administrative rules. Williams said he sees DeWine's effort as an affront to the legislature, which Williams said has been responding to the will of Ohio voters.
“So for him to now say he wants to take portions of it and draft it into administrative code through executive administrative agencies is just an attempt to usurp power from the legislative body that Ohio voters elected," Williams said.
The question now is – are there enough Republican lawmakers who initially passed the bill who will balk at an override, and opt to engage in the rule-making process instead? The House is expected to return Jan. 10, and a vote to override is likely. The Senate will return later this month.