A transgender Pride flag is covered with the words “Hands Off Trans Youth.” (Photo by Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator/States Newsroom)

The Ohio House will be in session next Wednesday and the Senate’s next scheduled session is Jan. 24.

BY:  Ohio Capital Journal

The Burkle family huddled together to watch last week’s press conference where Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a controversial bill that would have banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

“It was a brief sigh of relief,” mom Alicia Burkle said. “We were crying and hugging.”

Their 10-year-old daughter Astrid has socially transitioned, but has not yet started puberty blockers.

Ohio House Bill 68 would prevent transgender athletes from playing women’s sports and would ban transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy. DeWine said during last week’s press conference his focus was on the health care component of the bill.

The Burkles figured they had a couple of weeks before the lawmakers returned from winter break, but the Ohio House announced they will have session next Wednesday, Jan. 10. The Ohio Senate’s next schedule session is Jan. 24.

“It’s just so hurtful and it’s exhausting,” Burkle said.

The Ohio Capital Journal talked to three families with transgender children who were relieved DeWine vetoed HB 68, but are now concerned the legislature could override his veto.

“We do know that this was a math problem also and that the veto was not necessarily the end,” said Nick Zingarelli, the father of a transgender teenager.

A three-fifths vote of the members of the House and Senate is necessary to override the governor’s veto — meaning 60 representatives and 20 senators.

HB 68 passed in December with 24 votes in the Senate and 62 votes in the House. State Sen. Nathan Manning was the lone Republican senator to vote against the bill in December. Republican state Reps. Jamie Callender and Brett Hillyer voted against the bill when it originally passed the House with 64 votes in June.

Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, said last week he was disappointed in DeWine’s veto.

“We will certainly discuss as a caucus and take the appropriate next steps,” Stephens said in a statement.

Burkle family

When the Ohio House and Senate passed HB 68 on Dec. 13, the Burkles launched into action mode by asking their doctor what next steps they can take as well as emailing and calling DeWine. Astrid even sent DeWine some handwritten letters.

“We really didn’t get to truly enjoy the holiday because we were just so anxious about what was going to happen,” Alicia Burkle said.

Astrid is not currently on puberty blockers and wouldn’t be covered under the grandfather clause that would allow doctors who already started treatment on patients to continue.

“We don’t know that she would be (on puberty blockers) before the bill were to take effect, if it were to pass,” Alicia Burkle said.

DeWine said he would pursue administrative rules banning gender-affirming surgery on minors, collecting data, and combating clinics that might pop up to try to perform ideologically-driven care. No Ohio children’s hospital currently performs gender-affirming surgery on those under 18.

“Those are all really reasonable concessions,” Burkle said.

The Cleveland-area family doesn’t want to move out-of-state, and hopes it doesn’t get to that point.

“It’s certainly one of the options that we’re keeping open if that’s what we’re forced to do,” Burkle said.

The Scagliones

While Kat Scaglione was impressed with DeWine’s veto, she said it feels like sitting in limbo waiting to see what happens next.

“What if this override happens?” she asked. “It feels like we’ve almost backpedaled and we’re back to where we started.”

She has a 14-year-old transgender daughter, a 13-year-old cisgender son, and a 10-year-old transgender daughter.

Amity, 14, is past the point of being able to get puberty blockers and is waiting on hormone treatment.

“I am supposed to be worrying about the next test I have to study for,” Amity said. “Not whether my rights are going to disappear. …  It’s very scary to have that thought looming over your head, like all the time.”

Kat said waiting on the governor’s decision overshadowed the holiday season.

“My kids were sitting there writing Christmas lists and writing letters to send to the governor and to the representatives,” she said. “It didn’t feel like much of a holiday this year.”

Zingarelli family

The Zingarelli family celebrated DeWine’s veto.

“It was we’re going to take the next few days just to savor this victory, because it was a huge victory,” father Nick Zingarelli said.

His 14-year-old daughter is treated by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, so she would be able to continue receiving care under the grandfather clause but he wants to make sure all Ohio kids would have access to this kind of care.

He hopes DeWine’s veto will give other Republican lawmakers pause.

“I would hope that they would listen to the elected leader from their own party, and then consider that and say, ‘Am I on the wrong side of this issue?’ … We’re not gonna roll over on this battle. If they win in the legislature, we will see them in court,” he said.

Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on X.


Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime. She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.


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