WV House Health Committee approves bill banning gender affirming care for minors

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Members of West Virginia’s House Health and Human Resources Committee today approved a bill that bans gender affirming care for all minors in the state.

The bill, House Bill 5297, will now head to the House floor for consideration.

“When we say that parental rights matter, that includes the right to fill your child’s prescriptions without 134 legislators standing in the way,” said Isabella Cortez, Gender Policy Manager for Fairness West Virginia. “Lawmakers have no business telling parents whether or not they can take their child to the doctor to receive medically-necessary, lifesaving treatment. This last-minute mad dash to eliminate this care is abhorrent.”

West Virginia lawmakers have already severely restricted which minors can access gender affirming care. House Bill 2007, signed into law nearly a year ago, allows only a very small percentage of transgender youth to receive this care after their parents give written consent and after receiving a diagnosis of “severe gender dysphoria” by a team of medical providers.

Up to 2 percent of kids in this country identify as transgender, and in any given year a third of them may attempt suicide. Researchers found that trans youth who access gender-affirming hormone therapy have 73 percent lower odds of considering suicide.

“Only a handful of teenagers who have been diagnosed with severe gender dysphoria are able to get the help they need – and that’s after a comprehensive assessment by a team of doctors and mental health experts give them a diagnosis,” Cortez said. “The law is so restrictive that some families have already decided to pack up and move out of state to ensure their kid can get the care they need. So we already have people fleeing the state because the law is so restrictive – there’s no need to restrict it any further.”

Before the committee met to discuss House Bill 5297, Fairness West Virginia submitted a request for a public hearing on the bill. Staff members from Speaker Roger Hanshaw’s office told us shortly afterward that our request was denied.

Fairness West Virginia organized a public hearing during last year’s session to oppose another bill that would ban gender affirming care. Dozens of people came out to speak against the bill, including parents, medical experts, faith leaders and people who have benefitted from this care.

“Republicans continue to strip West Virginians of their bodily autonomy – the freedom to decide for ourselves what health we need,” Schneider said. “And now, they want us to sit down and quietly accept these attacks. Well that’s not going to happen. We won’t be quiet about a bill that bans evidence-based suicide prevention.”

 

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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.