DeWine said he spoke with physicians, lawmakers and families on all sides of the issue before making his decision. He added that he would pursue regulations to ban gender-affirming surgery on minors and address what he described as ideologically driven clinics that could seek to influence patients’ decisions.

“These are parents who have watched their children suffer for years, and have real concerns their children would not survive without it,” DeWine said. “Families are basing their decisions on the best medical advice they can get.”

The veto can still be overridden by a three-fifths vote of the Ohio legislature. The bill
passed with higher margins
in both chambers of the state legislature earlier this month.

Republican elected officials and activists in Ohio criticized the governor’s veto and called on the legislature to override it. The state’s Republican senator, J.D. Vance, posted on social media that DeWine’s comments about parental rights were “a slogan, not a justification” and added that he was “extremely disappointed in the governor’s decision and hope it is overridden.”

Frank LaRose, Ohio’s secretary of state who is also running for Senate in 2024, posted on that “[we] have a duty to protect safety and fair competition for female athletes and to protect children from being subjected to permanent, life-altering medical procedures before the age of 18.”

Some are taking the opportunity to question the moderate governor’s Republican bonafides. Jim Renacci, a former Republican U.S. representative who unsuccessfully challenged DeWine for the governorship in 2022, said “DeWine is not a Republican” and that “HB 68 is the easiest bill for a Republican Governor to sign.”

DeWine is one of just a handful of Republican governors who have vetoed sweeping bills seeking to block transgender youths from accessing gender-affirming health care, like hormone replacement and puberty blockers, and limit the participation of transgender girls and women in K-12 and collegiate sports. Across the country, Republican-led states have passed legislation that severely restricts, if not outright bans, gender-affirming care, arguing that these bills are necessary to protect children from “gender ideology” and defend gains in girls and women’s sports over the last few decades.

Many of the Republican governors who vetoed bills last year, among them
Spencer Cox of Utah
,
Eric Holcomb of Indiana
and
Doug Burgum of North Dakota, went on to sign revised pieces of legislation in 2023 banning gender-affirming care and restricting transgender girls’ and womens’ participation in school-sponsored sports.