Ohio bans sex changes for kids, overriding Gov. DeWine’s veto

transgender surgery Image credit: ADragan/Shutterstock

Ohio lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to prohibit doctors from facilitating sex changes for children on Wednesday, Jan. 24, in a successful override of Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of the legislation.

The bill, which will go into effect in 90 days, prohibits all “gender reassignment surgery” performed on minors and the prescription of puberty-blocking drugs and hormone treatments designed to facilitate a gender transition for minors. More than half of the country still makes these procedures and drugs available to children.

During the floor debate, Republican Sen. Kristina Roegner said that performing sex change surgeries on minors is a form of “medical malpractice” that “needs to stop.”

“Teenagers, children — they’re not capable of making life-altering decisions,” Roegner said. 

Democratic lawmakers overwhelmingly opposed the legislation. Democratic Sen. Paula Hicks-Hudson said on the Senate floor that people should be allowed to choose their medical care for themselves.

“What we are doing today is creating major harm for a small segment of the state of Ohio’s population — our citizens.”

DeWine, the state’s Republican governor, broke from his party in December when he vetoed the bill, which had strong Republican support. Two weeks ago, the Republican-controlled House voted 65-28 to override the veto. On Jan. 24, the Senate followed suit, voting 23-9 to override the governor’s veto. Both chambers have Republican supermajorities.

The new law will prohibit doctors from removing a child’s genitals or performing any surgeries that would sterilize the child to facilitate a sex change. It also prohibits the removal of healthy female breasts and surgeries that would alter the child’s genitals or chest to make them appear like that of the opposite sex. It further bans any aesthetic surgeries on children to facilitate a gender transition.

Per the new law, doctors will also be prohibited from providing puberty-blocking drugs or any other drugs meant to facilitate a gender transition in a child. They will not be allowed to offer hormone treatments meant to facilitate a gender transition by increasing the estrogen in boys or the testosterone in girls to levels that would be higher than normal for a boy or a girl at his or her age and sex.

The law will not apply to children who are born with a sex development disorder or with irrevocably ambiguous sex characteristics. The law also includes exceptions when the procedures are conducted to treat an infection, injury, disease, or disorder rather than to facilitate a sex change.

Aaron Baer, the president of the Center for Christian Virtue, which strongly supported the legislation, said in a statement that the Legislature’s successful override of the veto “marks a turning point in Ohio.”

“No child is born in the wrong body, no matter what powerful and well-funded lobbyists say,” Baer said. “Today, Ohio has told an exploitative medical industry that we reject your junk science and will no longer allow you to experiment on our children.”

The ACLU of Ohio, which opposed the bill, criticized the lawmakers who voted to override the veto. 

“This is a shameful legislative act,” the group said in a post on X, formerly called Twitter. “We will do everything we can to fight this.”

In addition to prohibiting sex changes for children, the legislation also establishes rules for high school and college athletics. It requires that only biological women and girls can play in athletic competitions that are reserved for female athletes. Biological males who identify as women or girls will not be allowed to participate in those competitions.

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