WV Delegates vote to ban gender-affirming care for transgender teens

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates today voted 88-11 in favor of a bill to ban gender-affirming care for transgender adolescents.

The bill, House Bill 5297, removes a very narrow exception in existing state code that allows transgender youth who are at risk of self-harm or suicide to continue receiving this care. The bill will now head to the Senate for consideration.

“Let’s be clear about what happened today,” said Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia. “Our delegates voted to strip parents of their ability to get the medically-necessary, lifesaving care that more than 550 health care providers in West Virginia support. They told parents with transgender teens who are at serious risk of self-harm or suicide that they can’t get their kid the help that doctors say they need. I don’t understand how anyone could look at these families and tell them their child’s life doesn’t matter, but that’s what they did today with this vote.”

The existing exception in state code has allowed only a handful of transgender adolescents in West Virginia to receive this care – those young people who have the most extreme cases of severe gender dysphoria.

To further clarify that this exception allows transgender teens at risk of suicide to receive this care, Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, proposed an amendment putting an explicit suicide-risk exception into code. That amendment was rejected.

“Without access to this care, some transgender adolescents will be lost to suicide,” said Isabella Cortez, Gender Policy Manager for Fairness West Virginia. “That’s not an exaggeration. Senators put a very narrow exception into the law they passed last year, and they did it to save lives. There is no gray area here, it’s completely black and white. If this bill is signed into law, this care will not be available – period.”

Earlier this week, Fairness West Virginia published a letter signed by hundreds of health care providers across the state who oppose House Bill 5297. The letter received more than 300 signatures in less than 48 hours, and it currently has more than 550 signatures.

 

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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.