Ohio Governor Blocks Bill Banning Transition Care for Minors

Ohio Governor Blocks Bill Banning Transition Care for Minors

Lawmakers passed the measure earlier in December. Those in favor of the bill argued that parents are pressured by doctors to sign off on transition care treatments for their children. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Gary Click, said parents are “being manipulated by the physicians.’’

In addition to banning transition care for minors, the bill says medical professionals who provide the care could lose their licenses and be sued. It also prohibits transgender girls and women from playing on high school and college sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.

On Friday, Mr. DeWine said that if the bill were to become law, “Ohio would be saying that the state, that the government, knows better what is medically best for a child than the two people who love that child the most, the parents.”

The governor reached his decision after visiting hospitals and meeting with families “both positively and negatively affected” by gender-affirming care last week, a spokesperson said.

The Ohio bill came at the tail end of a year that has seen a record number of new laws passed to regulate the lives of transgender youth.

Before this year, only three states had passed restrictions on gender transition medical care for minors, according to a New York Times analysis. The count now stands at more than 20. Several dozen laws, including ones on how gender can be discussed in classrooms, what bathrooms transgender students can use and whether they can participate in school sports, have been enacted this year.

The testimony in Ohio echoed the themes voiced in other statehouses. Supporters of transition care bans have argued that the treatments in minors are relatively new, and the long-term effects are not well studied.

This summer, the American Academy of Pediatrics commissioned a systematic review of medical research on the treatments, while still taking the position that they can be essential. Transgender adolescents have high rates of depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm, and some evidence suggests that puberty blockers and hormones, in the short-term, could improve their mental health.

“The most harrowing part of my job is informing parents that their child died, especially when their death was from a preventable suicide,’’ Dr. Steve Davis, chief executive of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, told Ohio senators at a hearing on the bill. “You trust us on every other condition. Please, trust us on this one.’’

For now, minors in Ohio can continue to receive gender transition treatments. But the Ohio legislature, where Republicans hold a supermajority, could override Mr. DeWine’s veto. If it does, only those who have already been receiving treatments will be able to continue them.

About 100,000 transgender minors live in the 23 states that have laws restricting gender-affirming care, according to the Williams Institute at U.C.L.A. Law School. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of the laws in some states and let them go into effect in others. Many families, fearing the abrupt cutoff of a child’s treatment, have moved across state lines.

Last month, transgender youth and their families in Tennessee asked the Supreme Court to block the state’s ban on transition care for minors. If the court agrees to hear the case, it would have consequences for state bans across the country, legal experts said.

Anna Betts contributed reporting.