Ohio’s Backdoor Ban: Gov. DeWine Targets Gender-Affirming Care with New Executive Orders

In a controversial move that’s sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ+ community, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, has signed a series of executive orders severely restricting gender-affirming care for transgender individuals in the state. This comes just a week after he vetoed a legislative bill aimed at banning many forms of gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

DeWine’s new directives are a stark shift in policy, outright banning gender-affirming surgeries for minors. These surgeries are incredibly rare and typically considered only as a last resort. This action flies in the face of the overwhelming body of research showing that less than 1 percent of transgender individuals who undergo such surgeries experience regret – a rate significantly lower than surgical regret among cisgender people.

Professional healthcare organizations have consistently opposed bans on gender-affirming surgical care for youth, underlining the life-saving importance of such treatments. Despite this, DeWine has chosen to advance his agenda, misleadingly framing it as a protection of “parental rights.” His statement, “I believe the parents, not the government, should be making these crucial decisions for their children,” blatantly contradicts the reality that his orders deprive parents of the option to pursue necessary care for their children.

The governor’s additional orders could have a devastating impact on the transgender community in Ohio. They mandate that a team of specialists, including an endocrinologist, a mental health specialist, and a bioethicist, be involved in the decision-making process for gender-affirming care for patients of all ages, including adults. Furthermore, clinics providing gender-affirming care would be obliged to report patient information to the state.

Another concerning aspect of DeWine’s orders is the requirement for patients to undergo a mental health evaluation and six months of counseling before receiving gender-affirming care. The public comment period on these proposals is alarmingly brief, ending in just two weeks.

LGBTQ reporter Erin Reed and Allison Chapman, an LGBTQ legislation tracker and trans rights activist, have both warned of the dire implications of these regulations. Reed points out that the requirement for specialist involvement could effectively end adult trans care in Ohio, acting as a de facto ban for many patients. Chapman echoes this concern, highlighting the potentially catastrophic consequences for transgender Ohioans as they face the prospect of being forced off their medications and possibly having to flee the state to access care.

Governor DeWine’s executive orders represent a significant step backward in the fight for transgender rights and healthcare access. By imposing these restrictive measures, DeWine is not only disregarding the expert consensus of medical professionals but also undermining the autonomy and well-being of transgender individuals in Ohio. As the LGBTQ+ community and allies rally against these orders, the battle for transgender rights in Ohio and across the nation continues, underscoring the importance of advocacy and resistance in the face of regressive policies.