West Virginia Delegates vote to ban lifesaving medical care for transgender youth

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — The West Virginia House of Delegates voted 84-10 on Friday to ban lifesaving medication for transgender youth.

House Bill 2007 bans a wide range of gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18, stripping countless families of their medical freedoms. Doctors have repeatedly said that this bill will increase the suffering of transgender youth and greatly increase their risk of suicide.

“Our community has spent weeks begging lawmakers to listen to us when we say this care is safe, effective and lifesaving,” said Isabella Cortez, gender policy manager for Fairness West Virginia. “It’s not an exaggeration when we say this bill, if it’s signed into law, will kill transgender youth. The lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill should be ashamed of themselves.”

Every Democrat in the House voted against this bill except Del. Elliott Pritt, D-Fayette, who voted in favor of it, and Del. Ric Griffith, D-Wayne, who did not vote at all. The bill now heads to the state Senate, where it will likely be assigned to the Health and Human Resources Committee and then the Judiciary Committee.

“We knew from the very beginning that we would face an uphill battle to protect this lifesaving care, but the fight isn’t over,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “This bill is masquerading as a way to protect kids, but in fact it actually puts them at risk. The real intent of this bill is to erase transgender people from the Mountain State, and we won’t let that happen.”

The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Monday afternoon. Minutes before the committee’s meeting began, Fairness West Virginia staff requested a public hearing to allow members of the community an opportunity to defend this lifesaving care and show transgender youth that countless Mountaineers are willing to fight for their freedoms. Fairness staff collected more than 70 testimonies from West Virginians who couldn’t make it to the Capitol on short notice or were concerned that speaking publicly might put their personal safety at risk.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Del. Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, previously admitted that he didn’t speak with any doctors before drafting the bill. On Friday, Foster announced that he had finally heard from doctors — on the Internet.

“I’m disappointed that Del. Geoff Foster still doesn’t understand the very care he’s working so hard to ban,” Cortez said. “Instead of Googling doctors who peddle conspiracy theories, he should listen to actual experts — like the dozens of doctors and medical experts who spoke at yesterday’s public hearing.”

“If a lawmaker still claims they don’t understand this issue, it’s because they don’t want to understand,” Cortez said.

Every credible medical organization – representing more than 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. Locally, the President of the West Virginia Psychological Association wrote a letter to the Senate President and Speaker of the House opposing this bill.

Please direct questions and interview requests to press@fairnesswv.org

Fairness West Virginia is the statewide civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to fair treatment and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer West Virginians. Our mission is to ensure LGBTQ people can be open, honest and safe at home, at work, and in the community. We are open to everyone who believes in fundamental fairness.