Senate confirms Ohio governor veto override on minor trans medical care bill

Senate Republican supermajority seals veto override

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Ohio law will soon block transgender minors from starting gender affirming hormone treatments , bar gender affirming surgeries on trans youth, and ban transgender girls from playing in girls’ school sports following Wednesday’s 24-8 vote in the Ohio Senate.

The vote cemented the Ohio General Assembly’s override of Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68, known as the Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act, in the closing days of 2023. It follows a veto override vote in the House that had the unanimous support of Republicans.

Wednesday’s Senate vote had support the entire GOP caucus except for northeast Ohio’s Sen. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville. Democrats voted unanimously in opposition.

In 90 days, physicians will be prohibited from prescribing hormone treatments and surgeries to minors for the purposes of gender affirmation; doctors will be prohibited from “aiding and abetting” an Ohio minor in their pursuit of those treatments; and counselors will be prohibited from treating gender dysphoria through therapy without consent of a minor’s parents.

The bill contains a grandfather clause that allows minors already receiving medical care to continue their treatment.

In total, it was the sixth time that the bill was supported by over 3/5 of Ohio lawmakers. Throughout the process, debate at the Statehouse has touched on whether or not minors could actually provide informed consent on decisions of such gravity, and specifically whether the government has the responsibility to use its authority to block families and medical professionals from making case-by-case decisions.

Medical care debate

Wednesday’s debate on the Senate floor included heated discussion on the nature of gender itself.

“I feel like I’m going to be stating the obvious, but I’m going to do it anyway. There are men, there are women, there are boys, there are girls, and they are different,” said Akron-area Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson. “While it is possible to identify as anything you want, it is not possible for a man to become a woman or a woman to become a man. Here’s something else: Gender is not fluid. There is no such thing as a gender spectrum. You cannot change your gender, you either have two X chromosomes, or you have an X and a Y chromosome and you have the associated anatomical differences to go along with that.”

Roegner’s speech was interrupted by a protester who was forcibly removed from the chamber.

“Please do not overturn this veto. Jesus loves every child, no matter what their sexual identity is. You cannot take it away from parents and medical professionals,” the protester said while being forcibly removed from the chamber. “I stand, and you should stand, for the children of Ohio. Don’t overturn this veto.”

After the outburst, Roegner continued her speech.

“These people (with gender dysphoria) do suffer,” Roegner said. “But what they need to know is that they are loved for who they are. They need compassion; they need counseling. What they do not need is chemical castration, sterilization, or physical mutilation.”

For other Republicans, H.B. 68 is seen as simply a stopgap to ensure that minors don’t rush into permanent decisions that they may come to regret. Of specific concern for a number of Republicans is evidence that gender affirming hormone treatments could lead to infertility.

On the other side, Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, the legislature’s sole openly gay lawmaker, said the topic is too complicated of an issue to effectively legislate. She noted that lawmakers are being asked to use their own lived experiences to understand the issue and inform their beliefs.

“I do not know what it’s like to live my life as a transgender person. I have no idea what that’s like. But just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean that I should dis-confirm their right to exist,” Antonio said. “When someone stands in front of me and tells me, ‘This is who I am,’ how do I have the right to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, you don’t really exist’?”

She said that putting such a bill into Ohio law would revoke the decision making power from those who have an intimate, case-by-case understanding of what a transgender child’s life is like and the obligation to protect them.

“At its core, 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,” Antonio said.

Senate Democrats noted that they’ve heard from many constituents who have said that gender affirming care saved their child’s life, an experience that DeWine shared.


Hours before Wednesday’s session, about 50 activists and transgender Ohioans gathered outside the Statehouse, marching around the property chanting, “trans rights are human rights.”

One of those protestors was Ruby, a 19-year-old transgender man who declined to provide his last name. He told this news organization that he didn’t see the need for the state to intervene in these kinds of medical decisions, an opinion formed through his own experience with seeking gender affirming care in the state.

“They do not just give gender affirming care to minors willy-nilly,” said Ruby, who first sought gender affirming care at age 16 but had experienced gender dysphoria for years prior.

“They gave me two years of therapy. Two whole years of diagnosis and asking hard questions and figuring this out,” Ruby said. “At the end of those two years, when I was 18, they said, ‘You’re an adult, you can make your own decision, but we also believe, due to two years of analysis, that we think testosterone is a good step for you.”

Ruby said he was screened not only for gender dysphoria, but for body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions that could lead someone to feel uncomfortable in their body.

Women’s sports debate

The override will also enact the Save Women’s’ Sports Act, which was folded into H.B. 68 before either bill had been debated by the House Floor.

It will block transgender girls from girls’ scholastic sports in K-12 and college, trumping the transgender athlete policies of the Ohio High School Athletic Association and the NCAA in Ohio that have largely limited the amount of transgender girls playing girls’ sports.

In Ohio public schools, only 20 transgender girls have participated in girls’ sports since the 2015-2016 school year, and those athletes were only allowed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association when the athletes do not possess unfair physical traits.

Currently, the number of athletes is reportedly seven. Such low numbers of transgender athletes has made activists and Democrats question why a ban is necessary.

“That’s not the number of people it effects. If one (transgender) child is playing on the soccer team, the 25 other girls playing on that soccer team are affected,” said Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, on the Senate floor. He noted that parents involved with those teams are also impacted.

Since its inclusion, the athletics aspect of the bill has divided attention among lawmakers and decision makers.

Butler County’s Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester, said he met with both proponents and opponents to the bill and noted that his overall opinion of the bill was in some way shaped by his friends who have transgender children. But, he called the differences between transgender girls and biological girls “the one thing I cannot overlook.”

“If just one (female athlete) is prevented from getting a scholarship, that’s one too many,” Lang concluded.

Follow DDN statehouse reporter Avery Kreemer on X or reach out to him at or at 614-981-1422.

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