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Ohio legislature overrides governor’s veto of transgender bill

The Ohio Statehouse (Library of Congress photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio has banned gender transitions for minors and restricted biological males from participation on female sports teams . The state’s Senate followed the House in overriding Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of the bill designed to protect minors from harmful medications and surgeries.

The Republican-dominated Senate voted to override the veto Wednesday (Jan. 26). The new law bans gender-transition surgeries and hormone therapies for individuals under 18. The measure also bans males from girls’ and women’s sports teams at both the K-12 and collegiate level.

When the House made the same decision earlier this month, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Vice President Miles Mullin told Baptist Press the legislation “will protect children from life-changing medical and surgical interventions and protect the integrity of women’s and girls’ sports.”

Jeremy Westbrook, executive director and treasurer of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, also applauded the House vote, telling BP, “We must continue to proclaim biblical gender identity and protect our young women.”

The override cleared the chamber 24-8 mostly along party lines, save Sen. Nathan Manning, a Republican from Cuyahoga County who has consistently broken from his party on the issue.

Officials expect the law to take effect in roughly 90 days.

DeWine reiterated Wednesday that he vetoed the legislation — to the chagrin of his party — to protect parents and children from government overreach on medical decisions. But the first week of January, he signed an executive order banning gender surgeries for people under 18.

At least 23 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning medical gender transitions for minors, and many of those states face lawsuits. Courts have issued mixed rulings. The nation’s first law, in Arkansas, was struck down by a federal judge who said the ban on care violated the due process rights of transgender youth and their families.

At least 20 states have approved a version of a blanket ban on male athletes playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams statewide, but a Biden administration proposal to forbid such outright bans is set to be finalized this year after multiple delays and much pushback. As proposed, the rule would establish that blanket bans would violate Title IX, the landmark gender-equality legislation enacted in 1972.

Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio, a Cleveland-area Democrat, called the measure “bullying” and said that the Legislature should be dealing with bigger issues such as mental health and substance use disorders rather than those that ostracize transgender youth and take away parental rights. Advocates are fatigued, but not too tired to fight back, she said.

“I hope that this is the last time, this legislative session, that we’re working to take away the rights of people from the LGBTQ community,” Antonio said.

From The Associated Press. May not be republished. Samantha Hendrickson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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  • Samantha Hendrickson