Skip to content Skip to footer

DeWine Orders Ohio to Create New Rules Restricting Gender-Affirming Care

DeWine’s orders make it “practically impossible” for trans people to get gender-affirming care, one LGBTQ activist said.

Mike DeWine gives his victory speech after winning the Ohio gubernatorial race at the Ohio Republican Party's election night party at the Sheraton Capitol Square on November 6, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.

On Friday, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine issued a series of executive orders that aim to restrict gender-affirming care for transgender people of all ages in the state.

DeWine issued the edicts one week after vetoing a legislative bill that would have banned many forms of gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

DeWine’s orders would completely ban gender-affirming surgery for anyone under 18 years of age. Such surgeries for trans youth are incredibly rare and are typically utilized only in extreme cases in which alternative options for care have already been exhausted.

For years, far right commentators opposed to gender-affirming care have pushed the dubious claim that trans people who undergo gender-affirming surgeries later experience regret. However, recently published research demonstrates that fewer than 1 percent of all trans people who undergo gender-affirming surgery experience post-surgical regret — a rate that is far lower than the rate of surgical regret among cisgender people who undergo other surgeries.

Dozens of professional health care organizations have argued against bans on gender-affirming surgical care for youth, noting that such care is often considered lifesaving by those who receive it.

Despite opposition from medical groups, DeWine pushed forward with the orders, errantly framing his action as a defense of “parental rights.”

“I believe the parents, not the government, should be making these crucial decisions for their children,” DeWine said in a statement, ignoring the fact that his orders would deny parents the ability to seek such care for their children when needed.

DeWine’s additional orders direct state agencies to create new regulations that would require a team of specialists — including an endocrinologist, a mental health specialist and a bioethicist — to be part of any health care provider’s office before they can provide gender-affirming care to patients of any ages, including adults. Clinics and other places that provide gender-affirming care would be required to report their patients’ information to the state under the new orders.

Dewine has also directed state agencies to create new rules that would require patients to undergo a mental health evaluation and six months of counseling before gender-affirming care can be provided.

The public comment period for citizens to express support or opposition to the new proposals is very short, scheduled to end within the next two weeks.

The regulations, particularly those requiring that certain specialists be involved in clinics’ everyday operations, “would essentially end most adult trans care in the state, instituting a defacto ban for many trans patients,” said LGBTQ reporter and legislation tracker Erin Reed, who noted that few places in Ohio could accommodate such requirements. “Individual private practice doctors, fertility clinics, community health clinics, and potentially even Planned Parenthood would likely not be able to offer care.”

Allison Chapman, an LGBTQ legislation tracker and trans rights activist, similarly warned that DeWine’s restrictions would have a chilling effect on gender-affirming care in the state.

“These draft policies, if put into place as written, will make it practically impossible for people, including adults, to receive or continue to receive gender-affirming care in the State of Ohio,” Chapman told Truthout, adding that DeWine’s edicts “will result in immense harm to transgender Ohioans as they are forced off their medications and have to consider fleeing their home to seek refugee in safer states.”