Governor DeWine on the Fence Undecided on Signing Transgender Legislation

By Danielle Dolin

by Danielle Dolin

Ohio legislators made a significant decision last week by passing a bill that restricts gender-affirming care for minors, aligning with over 20 other states that have implemented similar measures in the past two years.

If the bill receives approval from the governor and becomes law, its implications would extend beyond Ohio’s borders. Families with transgender youths, who were seeking gender-affirming care in Ohio due to existing bans in their home states, may now need to explore alternative options.

The legislation, named the Saving Adolescents from Experimentation Act (Safe Act), takes a firm stance against hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and gender reassignment surgery for individuals under 18. Its sponsor, State House member Gary Click (R), emphasized last week that the measure is rooted in “medical ethics” rather than engaging in “culture wars.” Additionally, the Safe Act prevents transgender girls from participating in sports teams designated for women in high school and college. The bill received approval in the Ohio Senate with a 24-8 vote and in the Ohio House with a 61-27 vote, largely following party lines.

A passionate debate unfolded in the state Senate, with Senator Kristina Roegner (R) asserting that the bill prioritizes the well-being of children. “House Bill 68 protects Ohio’s kids and is good public policy,” she argued. On the opposing side, Senator Bill DeMora (D) criticized the bill as “anti-science” and expressed empathy for transgender individuals, affirming their worth and love.

The legislation now awaits the signature of Governor Mike DeWine (R). Despite maintaining a neutral stance until now, DeWine, given the Republican supermajority in the legislature, may have limited power to veto the bill.

The bill has stirred controversy, drawing attention from various perspectives. Nick Lashutka, President and CEO of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, defended the state’s pediatric hospital system, refuting accusations of inappropriate conduct. Lashutka highlighted the comprehensive approach taken by pediatric specialists in psychiatry, adolescent medicine, and endocrinology, emphasizing that gender-affirming surgeries are not offered to minors in the state.

The debate has witnessed emotional testimonies from hundreds of individuals, with last week’s Senate committee hearing lasting past 11 p.m. and featuring 87 testimonies. The majority of testimonies opposed the bill, and supporters of the ban, who mostly traveled from out of state, were in the minority.

During the hearings, concerns were raised about potential risks associated with restricting gender-affirming care. Shefali Mahesh, Chair of the Akron Children’s Hospital pediatrics department, cautioned against the bill, citing instances where children resorted to unsafe alternatives. Mahesh emphasized the importance of allowing licensed professionals to provide medically based treatments following established guidelines.

In the final hours leading up to the Senate vote, the bill underwent amendments, including a provision allowing children already receiving gender-affirming care in Ohio to continue their treatment. However, this provision does not extend to families traveling from out of state.

DeWine maintained a reserved stance this week regarding his position on House Bill 68, the legislation seeking to prohibit specific gender-affirming treatments and restrict transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports. “While this does not affect a large number of Ohioans, it does affect a number of children in our state. We need to get it right. For me, getting it right means finding out as much as I can,” stated DeWine.

Without revealing the direction of his inclination, DeWine emphasized that he is taking his time in making a decision. “It’s a process that’s going on. It’s a process that’s not done. I will be making an announcement, obviously, before the 10 days run out,” he added.

In his pursuit of a well-informed decision, DeWine visited Nationwide Children’s Hospital on Wednesday afternoon to delve deeper into the issue. He mentioned having also visited other children’s hospitals in the state to gather comprehensive insights regarding HB 68.

The governor faces a deadline of December 29 to determine whether to sign the bill into law. Supporters argue that the legislation is necessary to protect children, while opponents believe it poses a threat to transgender youth in Ohio. DeWine expressed his commitment to making the right call on this complex issue.

“Gender-affirming care” operates on the concerning premise that any child experiencing distress related to their perceived gender should automatically undergo a social transition to the sex of their choice, followed by hormonal interventions, and potentially surgery to alter healthy body parts. Notably, underlying mental health concerns are often overlooked in this process. The refusal to tailor the approach to each child individually is a compelling reason to challenge the push for “gender-affirming care.”

However, there is another critical aspect deserving of scrutiny: the disregard for the impossibility of obtaining informed consent from the children subjected to this approach. In essence, young children and adolescents are being permitted to make potentially irreversible, life-altering decisions, often without the involvement or consent of their parents.

These procedures carry significant risks, including impairments in bone strength and brain maturation, as well as the loss of fertility and the ability to engage in sexual relations. This raises concerns about the long-term consequences of such interventions, especially given the lack of comprehensive consideration for the well-being of the individuals undergoing these treatments.

As Christians, it is crucial for us to fervently encourage Governor Mike DeWine to lend his support to House Bill 68. Beyond the apprehensions surrounding the potential dangers of certain medical practices, it is our conviction that advocating for the well-being of our youth should also align with biblical principles. By urging the approval of this legislation, we strive to safeguard not only the physical health of our children but also to uphold the values that resonate with our faith. Let our collective voice resonate in a plea for the protection of our youth, aligning with the timeless wisdom found in the teachings of our faith.

Danielle Dolin is a prolific writer and serves as the Managing Editor at the Christian News Journal. A dedicated mother of four daughters, she calls Southern Arizona home. Danielle’s passion for journalism extends beyond her professional role; she imparts her knowledge to homeschool students as a dedicated teacher. In her cherished moments of respite, you can find her engrossed in the pages of books or engaged in the world of video games. Her multifaceted life is a testament to her commitment to family, education, and her unwavering love for storytelling.

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