LGBTQ community rails against transgender bill

LGBTQ community rails against transgender bill
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:50 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - One by one, those supporting transgender rights let their voice be heard, urging lawmakers to protect children’s access to gender affirming health care.

Emily Beane and Robyn Kincaid, both transgender women, were among the speakers.

“You are telling me that I am not welcome here,” Beane told lawmakers. “You are telling trans kids that they’re not welcome here. I’m lucky to be alive because I didn’t grow up with trans health care, but I have it now.”

“I am here to denounce HB 2007 for the evil that it is,” Kincaid followed.

The legislation, if passed, would prohibit gender altering medication and surgery to most anyone under age 18.

Eighty speakers in all stepped to the podium -- each given one minute to speak, and every speaker, except two, urged lawmakers to reject the proposal.

“This legislation refuses to discuss laws that allow my 12-year-old to get married, but you want to prevent lifesaving, medical care for people who otherwise might commit suicide,” Jessica Anessa told lawmakers.

Her child, Damien Eplin, then spoke for himself.

“I’m mad,” he said from the podium. “I want you to know who you’re affecting. I want you to look at me and see who you are affecting.”

“I don’t know why you care about my body so much. I don’t know why you want to hurt me,” Eplin added.

WSAZ chatted with the seventh-grader from Vinson Middle School afterwards. Eplin said he does not wish to begin gender affirming procedures before age 18, yet the 12-year-old said that is a personal choice.

A choice every transgender child should be able to make.

“To take away gender-affirming care, all you’re doing is hurting people,” Eplin told WSAZ. “You’re hurting me. You’re hurting other people. All you’re doing is causing bad and you’re making things that are an issue from stuff that isn’t an issue.”

Delegate Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, sponsored the legislation. He argues it seeks to protect children, not harm them.

“The necessity is to protect children from a surgery or those hormones that’s not actually getting, it’s not proven to provide that benefit that is stated,” he told reporters.

Foster did not attend the hearing. He cited a conflict with another committee.

Several lawmakers came and went as the one-hour, 37-minute hearing continued.

Del. Jim Butler, R-Mason, spoke on behalf of a constituent. His reading of that statement was the first of two people to voice support for House Bill 2007.

“If a child told their doctor that they feel like a one-armed kid and wanted to cut their arm off, should the doctor affirm them in that?” asked Braden Roten of West Virginia Liberty Strike Force. “Of course not.”

Medical professionals and others opposed that viewpoint.

“The bill is dangerous,” Dr. Allison Holstein of West Virginia American Academy of Pediatrics told lawmakers. “It’s an intrusion on the physician-patient relationship, and the ability of physicians to provide care.”

“It’s just as torturous to try to make a trans kid be cis (cisgender) as it is to make a cis kid be trans,” Robb Livingood, a transgender man, said from the podium. “It’s just plain cruelty.”

Republicans then rejected two Democrat amendments. Delegates could pass the proposal Friday morning.

Republican leadership says those changes were unnecessary and ambiguous.

One amendment would have inserted parental consent into the legislation. The other would have banned children from receiving plastic surgery and other medical procedures.