Lambda Legal files lawsuit challenging WV’s discriminatory health plans

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Lambda Legal filed today a class action lawsuit challenging the state of West Virginia’s blanket exclusion for gender-affirming care. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Fairness West Virginia joined a press conference announcing the lawsuit, which can be viewed below.

Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia, shared the following comments:

My name is Andrew Schneider, and I’m the Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia. I want to begin by thanking Lambda Legal for its commitment to protecting the rights of LGBTQ people. Thank you for all the work you’ve done to protect our community.

As the statewide civil rights advocacy organization for LGBTQ people, we know first hand how damaging these exclusions can be. The state of West Virginia shouldn’t single out certain communities to deny health care coverage, but these blanket exclusions do just that. We know from our work that there are already too many hurdles that transgender West Virginians face when accessing gender-affirming care. A recent survey we conducted shows that about 45 percent of transgender people living in our state faced some form of discrimination when accessing care, and 17 percent were outright refused.

Fairness has been working hard to fix this problem by improving the culture of our health care system. Through our Transgender Health Initiative, we offer an extensive and rigorous training program for medical providers throughout the state. We know that initiative is working, but it won’t fix all of the problems the transgender community faces. These exclusions that Lambda Legal is challenging are another hurdle that people shouldn’t have to jump over just to go to the doctor.

Our survey shows that close to 40 percent of transgender people in our state are on Medicaid or PEIA, which I think shows how big of a deal today’s announcement is. In our initiative, we work with doctors whose hands are tied and can’t help their patients access gender-affirming care they need because of the exclusions. This care can be lifesaving. It’s time to ditch the exclusions and have state health plans that provide coverage free from discrimination.

Learn more about the lawsuit here.