WV Lawmakers Adopt Amended Bill to Ban on Gender-Affirming Care
CHARLESTON, West Virginia — In the final hours of the 2023 legislative session, West Virginia lawmakers adopted a new law that places significant restrictions on how transgender youth are allowed to access gender-affirming care.
Earlier versions of House Bill 2007 banned all forms of gender-affirming care for transgender people under the age of 18. Senators amended the bill late Friday night to carve out an exception that appears to allow a limited number of patients with severe gender dysphoria to continue with their medical treatment plan.
“Lawmakers have no business telling parents whether or not they can take their child to the doctor to receive medically-necessary, lifesaving treatment,” said Isabella Cortez, gender policy manager for Fairness West Virginia. “While this bill was made better, it’s still unacceptable that our lawmakers would even consider legislating important health care decisions that should be left up to the patients, their families and their providers.”
The House concurred with the Senate’s changes, but made minor technical changes to the bill. The Senate will have to concur before it heads to Gov. Jim Justice to approve or veto. If it’s signed into law, the bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
“Our lawmakers need to stop trying to incite these pointless culture wars by inventing problems that don’t exist,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “Gender-affirming care is medically necessary and practiced by skilled doctors who adhere to strong, peer-reviewed professional standards. Not a single doctor in West Virginia said this bill was necessary, and yet our lawmakers wasted countless hours and taxpayer dollars to pass it. Think of all the other problems — real problems — facing our state that we could have tackled instead of fighting over this bill.”
Throughout the session, community members have worked tirelessly to advocate against this bill. Fairness West Virginia organized a public hearing where more than 70 people spoke in opposition of the bill.
“Families shouldn’t have to travel to Charleston week after week to beg legislators to listen to them,” Cortez said. “I want our legislators to understand the toll that these ugly public debates have on the mental health of our community — on transgender youth, in particular. How would you feel if your very existence was debated by a group of 134 legislators? How would you feel if your child was singled out and publicly shamed by the leaders elected to protect them from harm? Our kids deserve better than this.”
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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.