Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Decides Trans Lives Don’t Matter After All

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

Well shame the fuck on me for giving Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) any praise at all for vetoing a bill aimed at gender-affirming care for minors. I should have known better.

DeWine really did veto the bill after reportedly talking to families with transgender kids, telling WTRF, “I’ll never forget what so many of them told me. They said, ‘Governor, but for this, my child would be dead by now. My child would have committed suicide.’”

I guess caring about the lives of trans kids only lasts as long as one news cycle, because he then turned around and gave a big gift to the anti-trans extremists in his party by way of an executive order.

“After the rest of his party threatened to override his veto, DeWine did something unexpected,” reports The New Republic. “He went above and beyond the original bill, restricting some access to gender-affirming care for adults as well.”

I sincerely apologize for saying that DeWine was in any way not a creep. He’s a creep.

“Under the new set of administrative rules, both minors and adults seeking any gender-affirming care will require sign-offs by multidisciplinary teams. That team could include (but is not limited to) an endocrinologist, a bioethicist, and a psychiatrist,” according to TNR. “The new rules will be enforced by the Ohio Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.”

On the surface, it sounds reasonable. DeWine explained it by saying, “I am concerned that there could be fly-by-night providers, clinics that might be dispensing medication to adults with no counseling and no basic standards to assure quality care.”

He makes it sound like he’s just trying to protect trans patients. Something we should all want to do! But the reality is very different.

“The new steep barrier of entry — which is not required in most states across the nation — will likely tack on incredible medical expenses, only further limiting access to what is often viewed as life-saving care for transgender individuals,” reports TNR.

A de facto ban via impossible-to-meet restrictions is straight out of the anti-abortion extremists. TRAP laws have been used across the country to limit access and drive out providers by setting medically unnecessary criteria for abortion providers and clinics that make it too expensive or too arduous to stay open.

“The rules being proposed are the most stringent rules currently under consideration anywhere in the United States, and would restrict gender-affirming care providers to a handful of university hospitals by requiring lengthy assessment by a multidisciplinary team, including a board-certified endocrinologist, psychiatrist and most unusually — a bioethicist,” writes Jessica Kant LICSW, MPH, a family therapist and researcher. “This last requirement is perhaps the most onerous. While bioethicists are employed by hospitals to review complex cases, no infrastructure exists for what DeWine is proposing. This would create an immediate barrier to care that is impossible to satisfy, putting every patient in indefinite limbo.”

When DeWine vetoed the initial bill, he said in a statement, “Ultimately, I believe this is about protecting human life. Many parents have told me that their child would be dead today if they had not received the treatment they received from an Ohio children’s hospital. I have 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. What so many of these young people and their families have also told me is that nothing they have faced in life could ever prepare them for this extremely tough journey. Parents are making decisions about the most precious thing in their life — their child — and none of us should underestimate the gravity and the difficulty of those decisions.”

Oh, what a difference a week or so makes. How you can publicly say these words and then turn around and say, in essence, “Just kidding. Go fuck yourselves” is beyond me.

As Kant puts it, “DeWine is going to get people killed by throwing extremely safe, lifesaving care into total disarray with no benefit or function other than for the sheer cruelty of it.”

It’s infuriating and heartbreaking, but not surprising. “Protecting human life” my ass.

“There is no way that our siblings in Ohio can do this alone, and this past year has shown us that we are facing an enormously organized assault on trans lives by some of the most powerful people in the United States,” Kant writes. “The move by the wealthiest people on Earth to purchase enormous amounts of electronic infrastructure to manipulate public sentiment against us —  at a time where the largest platform no longer flags false accusations, misinformation and outright blood libel against marginalized communities — information is going to get harder to trust and a hundred times more important. The threat is real, and it is an existential one at that.”

Thankfully there are things you can do, starting with contacting DeWine at governor.ohio.gov/contact. Kant has compiled a long list of ways to help trans people in Ohio at jessk.org/blog/things-you-can-do-right-now-for-ohio. Get busy.

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living life with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter.