WV Delegates Approve “Women’s Fake Bill of Rights,” Targeting Transgender West Virginians

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates today approved House Bill 5243, the “Women’s Fake Bill of Rights,” on an 87-12 vote. The bill will now head to the state Senate.

“Anyone pretending that this bill isn’t an attack on transgender Mountaineers is just not being honest,” said Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia. “The women of West Virginia were promised a real bill of rights, and our delegates failed to deliver.”

Only one Republican, Del. Diana Winzenreid, voted against the bill. She said she voted against the bill because it restricts the rights of a public official from her district. That official, Rosemary Ketchum, in 2020 became the first transgender person elected to public office in West Virginia.

The bill that was introduced contained absolutely no protections for women. It did not protect reproductive freedom, equal pay, affordable child care, menstrual equity, or any other issue to address the real problems affecting women. Instead, the bill redefines what “equal” means, claiming that “equal” does not mean “same” or “identical.”

“This exact language has been used in other states to restrict the rights of transgender people,” said Isabella Cortez, Gender Policy Manager for Fairness West Virginia. “If our state signs this bill into law, we will be handing a sledgehammer to the opponents of fairness and equality, and it’s clear that they will use this sledgehammer to try and tear down all of our community’s hard-won victories.”

House Bill 5243 requires all governmental buildings to bar transgender people from using the restrooms that align with their gender identity. This means that transgender women would be barred from using the women’s restroom.

In Kansas, lawmakers adopted a similar law which narrowly defined what it means to be a man or a woman. The Kansas Attorney General used this law to argue in court that the state shouldn’t allow transgender people to update the gender markers on their driver’s license.

The lead sponsor of the bill, Del. Kathie Hess Crouse, R-Putnam, spoke in favor of the bill referencing a West Virginia law adopted in 2021 that banned transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports at school. “Women’s sports is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

“Frankly, it’s difficult to describe just how bad this law could be because we don’t know how far our state’s leaders will go to restrict the rights of people who are transgender,” Schneider said. “It could wind up being disastrous. I mean, transgender people are already fleeing our state in droves because this Legislature is so hostile to them. This is only going to make things worse.”

 

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Please direct questions and interview requests to Jack Jarvis, Communications Director, at 304-250-9320 or jack@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.