Ohio governor vetoes bill banning gender-reassignment treatment, trans participation in women’s sports

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill that would have banned gender-reassignment treatment for minors and blocked transgender women and girls from participating in female sports leagues in Ohio on Friday. 

The Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act, which passed Ohio’s GOP-dominated state legislature earlier this month, was shot down by DeWine who said he could not sign the bill “as it is currently written.” 

“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 said he visited several children’s hospitals in the state and spoke with individuals on both sides of the debate before ultimately making his decision. He added, that while ultimately vetoing the bill, there are concerns raised in the legislation that he agrees with that he hopes to address alongside the General Assembly. 


The first includes implementing a ban on surgery for minors as part of gender-affirming care, increased reporting on data for those who receive gender affirming care, and lastly putting in place measures that would “prevent pop-up clinics or fly-by-night operations” that try to sell “inaccurate or even ideological treatments” to families or children. 

“I truly believe that we can collaborate, find common ground and adopt rules to protect Ohio children, adults and families in this area. It will be my goal in the coming weeks to get these protections adopted through a collaborative and deliberate process.” 

In his initial remarks, DeWine did not address the portion of the bill which sought to ban transgender women from girls and women’s sports. During questioning, the Republican governor said he focused on the legislation that “affected the most people and the most children by far.” 

Former NCAA Division I swimmer Riley Gaines, who pressured DeWine earlier this week, criticized the decision in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

“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.

“A compromise between right and wrong will always be wrong.”

Laws or policies banning gender transition-related health care for minors have passed in 22 states as of November 2023, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Court injunctions are preventing that from going into effect in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Indiana.

Fox News’ Liz Elkind contributed to this report. 

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