Governor DeWine Rejects Legislation Prohibiting Gender-Reassignment Procedures and Trans Inclusion in Women’s Athletics

Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio vetoed the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act on Friday. The legislation sought to ban gender-reassignment treatments for minors and limit the involvement of transgender women and girls in female sports leagues in the state. Despite backing from the Republican-controlled legislature, the bill encountered resistance from Governor DeWine.

“This bill would impact a very small number of Ohio’s children. But, for those children who face gender dysphoria and for their families, the consequences of this bill could not be more profound,” DeWine said during a press conference. “Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life. Many parents have told me that their child would not have survived, would be dead today if they had not received the treatment they received from one of Ohio’s children’s hospitals. I’ve also been told by those who are now grown adults that but for this care, they would have taken their life when they were teenagers.”

DeWine arrived at his decision following extensive consultations, including visits to children’s hospitals and dialogues with stakeholders from both sides of the debate. While vetoing the bill, he acknowledged concerns raised in the legislation, agreeing with some aspects and proposing collaboration with the General Assembly to address these issues.

The governor’s primary focus was on the healthcare elements of the bill, initially refraining from commenting on the sports-related provisions targeting transgender women in girls’ and women’s sports. When questioned, DeWine emphasized his concentration on the sections of the legislation that “affected the most people and the most children by far.”

Former NCAA Division I swimmer Riley Gaines, who had previously pressured DeWine on this matter, expressed strong disapproval of the veto.

“Gov. DeWine has proven himself to be a spineless coward who is unwilling to do the obviously right and moral thing. This veto doesn’t represent the majority of Ohioans, or the majority of Americans. I’m confident and hopeful the Ohio legislature will override his veto,” she stated.

As of November, 22 states have enacted laws or policies prohibiting gender transition-related healthcare for minors. Nevertheless, court injunctions have prevented the enforcement of these laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Indiana.