CHARLESTON, WV – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemns West Virginia Governor Jim Justice for signing House Bill 2007, which unfairly restricts age appropriate, life-saving, medically necessary care for transgender youth under the age of 18.
Gender-affirming care is age-appropriate care that is medically necessary for the well-being of many transgender and non-binary people who experience symptoms of gender dysphoria, or distress that results from having one’s gender identity not match their sex assigned at birth. Gender-affirming care is the integration of medical, mental health, and social services. For transgender children, transition is an entirely social process which may include a new name or pronouns, wearing different clothes or styling one’s hair differently. At puberty, doctors may – in consultation with and having the informed consent of the transgender youth and their parents – prescribe reversible medication known as puberty-blockers, which allow a young person to safely reach an age in which they’re truly able to consent to further treatment.
Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. Unfortunately, bolstered by disinformation spread by social media and designed to take aim at care for transgender youth, these unfair restrictions directly place the health, safety and wellbeing of transgender youth in West Virginia at risk.
In response, Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel released the following statement:
“Gov. Justice and the legislature are substituting their political priorities for the expert judgment of medical experts – the mainstream American medical community recommends the age-appropriate, best practice medical care that this law now prohibits. I want to be clear: these lawmakers are denying transgender and non-binary youth care that saves lives. Gov. Justice’s actions today are dangerous, discriminatory, and just another example of politicians in positions of power abusing their authority to cater to extreme elements of their base – harming the children of West Virginia in the process.”
So far in 2023, HRC is tracking more than 470 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 190 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.
This year, HRC is tracking:
More than 110 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, nine have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky and now West Virginia.
More than 25 bathroom ban bills filed,
More than 85 curriculum censorship bills and 40 anti-drag performance bills.
In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law.
Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2022 took several forms, including:
80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. 19 states now exclude transgender athletes in school sports.
42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. 5 states now restrict access to gender-affirming care.
70 curriculum censorship bills tried to turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. 7 passed into law.
More than 300 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in states across the country. Major employers in tech, manufacturing, hospitality, health care, retail, and other sectors are joining with a unified voice to say discrimination is bad for business and to call on lawmakers to abandon these efforts. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.
THE FACTS ABOUT GENDER AFFIRMING CARE
“Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.
Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.
Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor.
Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child.
None of this care is irreversible.
Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years.
But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass.
And very few transgender people change their mind.
Supported by all major medical organizations
Made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents
A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.
For more information, please visit https://www.hrc.org/resources/get-the-facts-on-gender-affirming-care
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.