W.Va. lawmakers limit transgender health care

W.Va. lawmakers limit transgender health care
Published: Mar. 11, 2023 at 11:36 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia’s Republican supermajority swiftly approved a proposal to add mental health exemptions to a bill that would ban certain health care for transgender youth during the last day of its 60-day legislative session Saturday.

Senators then followed suit late Saturday approving technical changes, and moving the legislation to Gov. Jim Justice.

The issue hotly contested by opponents at a public hearing in February.

“I am here to denounce HB 2007 for the evil that it is,” said Robyn Kincaid, a transgender woman.

The legislation, House Bill 2007, would prohibit gender altering medication and surgery to most anyone under age 18.

Saturday’s House vote came one day after Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, led an effort to protect hormonal therapy for children with severe gender dysphoria.

“There’s up to a 70-percent reduction in suicide,” he told WSAZ Saturday. “I mean that in itself should say enough, but the fact that these kids get their life back.”

Delegates took up the Senate amendment Saturday afternoon.

Delegate and pharmacist Ric Griffith, D-Wayne, underscoring the importance of that amendment.

“Which is more important,” he asked fellow lawmakers. “These children or how we’re perceived by our voters? And the lives of these children are critical for us to protect, and this is a very narrow allowance.”

But that amendment was still too narrow for 10 delegates -- all Democrats -- who voted against the proposal.

“These are impossible problems for parents to deal with, and I think that the bill itself shows an insensitivity,” Del. Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha told WSAZ. “We need to be supportive of people who are different, who are born different.”

Takubo contends the legislation is about protecting children, both in prohibiting gender-altering surgery and protecting therapy for those who need it most.

“What people have in mind, when they hear this, and this is a very confusing topic, is that you’re just giving these drugs to confused teenagers so that they can try to transition from one sex to another,” he said. “That is not what we did in this bill.”